When it comes to Mexican restaurant staples, refried beans are often at the top of the list. Although many people shy away from bean recipes because of the time investment, you don't need to invest several days to create a refried bean that's full of flavor. If you're planning a Mexican meal and you want to serve a side that your guests are likely to rave about, consider breaking out your slow cooker. Here's a look at how to pull it all together.
Choosing the Proper Bean
A great refried bean recipe needs the right beans to start with. You'll want a pound of pinto beans, because they have a naturally creamy texture that's perfect for refried beans. Rinse the beans and sort them so that you remove any stones or other debris. Put the rinsed beans into your slow cooker.
Add the Flavorings
Pour four cups of vegetable or chicken stock and two cups of water over the beans. Then, cut a sweet onion in half, remove the outer skin and put the halves into the slow cooker. Dice a small jalapeno and toss that in as well. If you don't want your beans spicy, cut it down to half of a jalapeno, and leave out the seeds. Top it all off with a couple of tablespoons of cumin (anywhere from two to four, depending on how strong you want the flavor).
Cook the Beans
Cook the beans for about eight or ten hours on high. They'll absorb the liquid in the pot, so make sure that you stir them a couple of times. This redistributes them throughout the slow cooker and ensures that they don't stick to the bottom.
Once the beans are cooked, remove the onion. Then, scoop the beans out of whatever liquid may be left. Don't discard the liquid, though – you're going to need it! Mash the beans with a potato masher, then add enough cooking liquid to keep them from being dry. Test them and add salt or pepper if you feel they need it. This often depends not only on your preferences, but also the amount of salt in the stock you use.
These beans are a perfect side dish when topped with scallions and shredded cheese, but they also make a great component for burritos and other recipes. If you're not confident in your skills, your local Mexican restaurant can also help with individual dishes such as refried beans for your meal.