Something that used to intimidate me? Dried beans. Yes, dried beans. As silly as it sounds! I’ve always been a canned bean kind of girl and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I decided to give dried beans a go.
I knew they were time consuming (soaking them and cook time). But what I didn’t was that they are actually incredibly easy to make. And so much better tasting than their canned counterparts. And even though you’re supposed to soak them, it’s not a requirement.
Truth be told, I’ve had quite the trials with my refried beans. There have been many a time where I’ve added way too much salt and they were basically inedible. Or I didn’t let them cook long enough, and they really weren’t as tender as they needed to be. But lo and behold, here’s a recipe that works.
These “refried” beans taste pretty authentic. I use quotes because they are not traditional (no lard involved) however, if you can get that authentic taste at home, I consider it a win. I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again, getting authentic international flavor at home is hard to accomplish. I think that’s why so many people go out to eat, because you can’t get that same flavor at home. But here you go. Make this and you’ll feel like you’re at a Mexican restaurant. That’s in your very own kitchen.
- 2-2 1/2 cups dried pinto beans
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 tbsp. bacon grease
Rinse the beans. Add to a large pot (I use my Dutch oven) and fill with water to just about 1″ above the beans. Let soak. If you don’t have the time or you just simply don’t remember this, that’s okay. I think the longest I’ve ever let my beans soak is about 4 hours.
Add the ham hock to the pot. Heat the pot on high until it comes to a boil. Cover with a lid, and reduce to a simmer for 3 hours if beans were soaked, about 4 hours if beans were not soaked. Make sure to check on these a couple times throughout the cooking time to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated. If you feel the water level is too low, you can add a little more water to the pot.
Remove lid and stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the bacon grease. Cover with a lid and let simmer for an additional hour.
After the hour is up, mash lightly (I use a potato masher) until your desired consistency and stir in the bacon grease until it melts. You can leave the ham hock in and mash around it or remove and discard. My dad loves them so when he’s over, the ham hock is his. But I just use it to flavor the beans. Also, if you feel the beans are too runny, you can let them simmer a little bit longer with the lid off until they thicken further.
This recipe makes a large amount. Enough so that I can usually freeze the other half which in my opinion, is so worth it so we can have beans at the ready for the next time we want Mexican.