For me, refried beans are one of those ubiquitous Mexican sides that I can take or leave. I like to make them sometimes when I want a quick, meatless burrito filling, but they often turn out overly dry and unexciting.
The recipe for refried beans in The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper elevates refried beans a bit, by adding cinnamon and cloves for spice, and by swirling in a couple of pats of butter at the end for added richness. I believe it’s the butter that really makes the difference, giving the beans a touch of needed fat for moistness. I like to use these beans as a burrito filling, so I’ve adjusted the recipe somewhat so that they aren’t too soupy. If you use a bit more water, you can also eat them out of a bowl, mixed with rice and garnished with your favorite Southwestern fixings.
Time to make: ~25 minutes.
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
- 2 15-ounce cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- ½-1½ cups water (Start with the smallest amount and add more as needed, depending on how you plan to serve the beans.)
- 2 tablespoons butter
1. Generously film the bottom of a 10-inch skillet with olive oil, and heat over medium-high heat. Saute the onions with salt and pepper to taste until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, jalapeno, cinnamon and cloves, and cook about 1 minute, taking care not to burn the spices. Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pan. Saute for another minute.
3. Stir in the beans and water. Bing to a fast simmer, crushing the beans with a potato masher as they cook. Simmer until the beans are thick, about 10 minutes. Blend in the butter.
To make burritos, spoon some beans into a tortilla and top with salsa and grated cheese. First fold the tortilla in from the bottom, then fold over one side, and roll in from the other side. Bake the burritos at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until warmed through. Top the burritos with more salsa and cheese before baking for enchilada-style, or garnish after baking with shredded lettuce and sour cream for burrito-style.
The finished beans hold in the refrigerator for 5 days; add liquid as needed when reheating.