We eat a lot of refried beans in our house. The kids love them in simple bean and cheese burritos, and Adam I like them covered in salsa for an afternoon snack.
We also have also have a 25-pound sack of pinto beans that lives in our garage. I think we've probably moved with the beans twice.
I bought the bag at a restaurant supply store when I taught preschool and was planning on starting a preschool or homeschool co-op in our home. Kids really like playing with beans---it's a great sensory activity and it's soothing to pour the beans back and forth between measuring cups and feel them falling through fingertips.
Anyhow, we were out of refried beans the other day, so I decided to make my own. Don't worry, I didn't use the beans the kids had been playing with. The rest of the bag was tightly sealed.
2 cups of dried pinto beans that have been picked through to get all the broken and funky-looking pieces taken out
1 1/2 yellow onions, peeled and cut in half
1 1/2 red onions, peeled and cut in half
10 whole garlic cloves
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
You will need to soak the beans overnight. Not only will this soften them better, but it will help release the gas.
Rinse the beans well in a colander, and dump into the crockpot.
Put them back in the crockpot with enough clean water to cover the beans with about an inch of water.
Stir in the cumin and coriander.
Peel and cut the onions in half, and put them in the crockpot. (you are letting the onion flavor permeate into the beans, that's all we're doing, here).
Peel all of the garlic, but toss them in whole.
Cover the crock and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until the beans are tender.
I cooked ours for exactly 9 hours. The were soft, and some of the beans had split.
Fish out the onion and the garlic cloves. If you want to keep some of the garlic in for flavor, you may.
It's your choice.
If the beans are soft and you still have a bit of liquid left, carefully drain it, saving a little to help with the smooshing and for added flavor.
Using a potato smasher, or hand mixer, mash the beans.
Now you have two options.
You can just start using the beans (the way I did, because I'm pretty darn lazy), or you can scoop hunks of smooshed beans out of the crock and fry them on the stove top with a bit of butter or olive oil (or lard, or bacon fat).
No salt was added, so you'll need to season to taste.
These were surprisingly easy and tasty.
The kids have been eating them for lunch. The next day they were a bit dried out, but a touch of warm water fixed that.
I needed to add quite a bit of salt to make them taste like the canned variety.
I have 4 baggies of ready-to-go beans in the freezer, which is great for after-school snacks.
not-too-spicy bean dip
smoky refried bean soup