This is a dish that I always eat when dining at Spanish style restaurants, but never seem to be able to replicate at home using black beans and olive oil. The main problem is that the beans seem to cook down to a soup consistency to quickly - any tips?
The heightened flavor of refried beans (over regular beans) comes from two components: the extra fat, and the Maillard (browning) reactions caused by the cooked beans shallow-frying in hot fat. Effectively, a crust forms where the mashed beans contact the fat. This crust breaks up later when the dish is stirred together.
If you can get them, try pinto beans rather than black.
Standard Refried Beans (from a can)
- Drain and rinse the canned beans.
- Heat your fat of choice (olive oil, lard, shortening) in a heavy pan.
- Mash 1/3 of the beans coarsely in a bowl, using the back of a fork and a little water, if necessary. You want the consistency of the mash to be somewhere between pancake batter and cookie dough.
- Add this mash to the fat in blobs of 1-2 tablespoons. The idea is to get as much surface area exposed to the fat as possible, because this is where the yumminess comes from, so, not a big blob in the middle of the pan. Preferably, many smaller ones.
- After a time, start stirring the bean mash and fat together, then mix in the reserved whole beans. Thin with water or broth.
Bonus:Roasted Garlic Refried Beans (from a can)
- Peel a couple of whole garlic cloves. Leave them whole.
- Put these in the fat as it heats. If the fat doesn't cover the cloves completely, you can either stir from time to time, or, better, tilt the pan so that the fat and garlic pool on one side.
- When the garlic cloves are the color of milk chocolate, remove them and add the mashed beans as above.
- Mash the cloves with the back of a fork and add them with the whole beans at the end.
These are SO delicious, it makes a ton and they actually tend to be better (thicker and the flavor has settled in more) after refrigerating overnight. I have served these to a lot of people (I often make them for parties) and people are always impressed with the result and it is so simple!
I just use Rick Steins method and fry a little garlic or other flavouring in some oil and then add a can of beans with some of the juice and then mash and heat through. It doesn't work too badly and is very easy to do.