I never made refried beans before tonight - so I'm not going to claim to be an expert on this one, and I haven't done any experimentation so I can't even claim to be a curious cook. But, these are so good I'm sharing anyway! Refried beans definitely fall into the comfort food category. Pairing them with some poached eggs and some nice flavors makes them even better.
Also, I realized that I don't think I've written about any egg dishes. Which is funny, since we eat eggs for dinner or breakfast quite often (thanks to Barack I, Barack II, and Barack III, pictured).
This dinner has everything going for it - it's super easy, healthy and has interesting flavors. It's not quick, but I used the 90 minute no-soak method (seriously!) to speed it up a bit. Still about 2.5 hours start to finish, but most of that time is not active. The beans came from our winter share CSA from Grant Family Farms. I've never been a bean connoisseur before, they usually just taste like beans, but I have to say these are awesome! I think they are just plain old pintos, but that the difference must be freshness. It's the texture that's a little nicer - they cook up really smooth, and seem to take less time to cook as well (by normal or the 90 minute method). Refried beans pair great with chiles, of course, and the smokiness of chipotles makes the combo even better. And roasted garlic ALWAYS makes EVERYTHING better. I served these beans with poached eggs, corn tortillas, sliced avocado, and some beet and carrot slaw (recipe follows) to round out the meal. The avocados were leftover from a few days ago, so unfortunately they are rather ugly.
Roasted garlic-chipotle refried beans
2 c. dried pinto beans
3 bay leaves
1 head of garlic
a little olive oil
3 T. vegetable oil (or some lard if you're into that)
1/2 onion, minced
3/4 t. salt (I used Maldon smoked sea salt)
4 dried chipotle peppers (canned would also be fine, skip the rehydrating step if using)
1 t. vegetable bouillon paste (I really like Better Than Bouillon)
1/2 tomato, chopped
1. Preheat the over to 250 degrees.
2. Rinse the beans. Transfer to a oven-safe pot with a tight fitting lid - like a Dutch oven. Add the bay leaves, and water to cover the beans by 2.5-3 inches or so.
3. Bring to a boil on the stovetop, then put in the preheated oven. Make sure the lid is on tightly at this point. Leave in the oven for 75 minutes. Check on them at this point to see if they're done. If necessary leave in a little longer.
4. Roast the garlic at the same time. Normally I use a hotter oven, but 250 worked just fine! Take the whole head of garlic, and remove any really dry outer layers of skin. Cut the tips of the individual cloves off - you can get the middle ones with one cut; then get any of the outer cloves the first cut missed. Place the garlic on some aluminum foil (cut side up) and drizzle a little olive oil on the cloves. Wrap up the garlic tightly in the foil, and stick in the oven. Leave in for as long as the beans take.
5. While the beans are cooking, you can make the slaw (recipe below), or another side dish if you wish.
6. When they're done, drain the beans and fish out the bay leaves.
7. Heat the oil in the pot you used for the beans, and cook the onion and some salt over medium low heat, till slightly caramelized and thoroughly cooked. Stir occasionally.
8. While the onions are cooking, puree the beans with a little water in a food processor till they are the consistency you like for refried beans. I like them pretty smooth.
9. Transfer the pureed beans back to the pot with the onions, stir. Reduce heat to low. Stir occasionally.
10. Boil some water (1/2 cup, at least) and pour over the chipotles to rehydrate. Let sit for 5 minutes or so.
11. Fish out the chipotles and put them on a cutting board. Add the teaspoon of veggie bouillon base to the water, stir to dissolve, and pour into the pot with the beans. Stir everything really well.
12. Take half the head of roasted garlic, and squeeze the cloves out of their skins one by one (of half the head, reserve the other half for another use). Mince the chipotles and roasted garlic cloves. Add these and the chopped tomatoes to the pot.
13. After you've added everything and the mixture is slowly bubbling (maybe more like burping!), cook for at least half an hour, stirring occasionally. The beans will stick to the bottom of the pot a little, but that's okay. Just keep the heat low enough so they don't really burn, and scrape the bottom when you're stirring. You will probably need to add a little more water at some point, depending on the thickness you prefer.
14. Poach 2 eggs per person. Here's how I poach eggs: Boil water in a large, deep skillet (about 2/3 full of water). Add a splash of vinegar (white, white wine, or apple cider). When the water is at a simmer (not a full rolling boil or the eggs will get shredded), crack the eggs one at a time into a saucer, and gently lower the edge of the saucer into the boiling water so the eggs slides in gently. Cook for about 4 minutes, and remove gently with a slotted spoon or spatula.
Carrot and beet slaw
2-3 medium beets
4-6 medium carrots
1/4 c. parsley (or cilantro)
Juice of one lime
Splash of olive oil
Splash of apple cider vinegar (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Shred the veggies in the food processor, chop the parsley.
2. Toss with lime juice and olive oil. Taste, and add vinegar or some extra lime juice if you like. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit for an hour or so.
I used my food processor for nearly everything! And I even managed to avoid washing it in between ingredient processing by processing in this order. 2 through 4 are for the salad.
1- onion (blade)
2- carrots (grating disk), and beets (same)
3- parsley (blade)
4- beans (blade)
5- rehydrated chipotles and garlic (blade)
6- tomato (blade)
The traditional way to mash the beans is with a potato masher. I don't have one, so I used the food processor! You can certainly vary the the seasonings - chile powder, roasted fresh peppers, cumin, lime juice would all be good! But maybe not all at the same time. Also, I think this would be pretty good with canned beans, but I haven't tried it. I think next time I will make this doubled or tripled and freeze some. (And I will be making it again, cause I have lots of these beans!)
And lastly, just to brag about my pets a little, check out how tall the yolk is on the egg on top in this other shot of dinner! That's what you get with fresh eggs from backyard poultry.