Refried Beans – A Classic Mexican Side Dish
Refried beans are a traditional Mexican dish made from cooked, mashed pinto beans. The beans are first cooked until tender, then mashed with a masher or food processor, and then fried in a pan with some fat, usually lard or vegetable oil, and sometimes with onions and garlic.
The result is a creamy, flavorful bean spread that can be used as a side dish or as a filling for various Mexican dishes such as burritos, tacos, tostadas, and enchiladas. Some variations of refried beans are also flavored with spices, such as cumin, chili powder, or oregano.
Refried beans are a staple in Mexican cuisine, and they are also a great source of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Made with dried beans or with canned beans, there are also vegetarian versions of refried beans that use vegetable oil instead of lard.
They are also a great ingredient for burritos, they can be added to the filling with chicken, beef or pork, cheese, and veggies, or they can be spread over the tortilla before wrapping. They also can be served as a side dish, mixed with cheese, topped with sour cream, or salsa.
Who Invented Refried Beans?
The origin of refried beans is not well-documented, so it is unclear who exactly “invented” the dish. The dish has been part of traditional Mexican cuisine for a long time, it is believed that it has been around for centuries. The name “refried” refers to the fact that the beans are cooked twice, once to soften them, and then again to mash and fry them.
Refried beans were traditionally made using lard which gave them a rich and flavorful taste. Lard was a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine, it was used for frying, baking, and as a spread. The use of lard in the recipe is a key component that sets it apart from other bean dishes, which are usually just mashed or pureed without being fried.
It is likely that refried beans were created by indigenous people in Mexico, who used the ingredients and cooking methods that were available to them to create a delicious and nutritious dish. It is also possible that the dish was created by Spanish colonizers, who introduced new ingredients and cooking methods to the region.
Regardless of who “invented” the dish, it is clear that refried beans have been an important part of Mexican cuisine for a long time and it is enjoyed by many people all over the world.
What Are They Served With?
Refried beans are a staple in Mexican cuisine, and they are used as an ingredient or side dish in many traditional dishes. Some of the most popular dishes that are served with them include:
- Tacos: They can be used as a filling for tacos, often along with meat, cheese, salsa, and lettuce.
- Tostadas: A tostada is a crispy fried or toasted tortilla, which can be topped with refried beans, meat, cheese, lettuce, and salsa.
- Enchiladas: Enchiladas are tortillas rolled around a filling, usually meat or cheese, and covered in a chili sauce. They can be used as a filling for enchiladas or as a side dish.
- Quesadillas: A quesadilla is a tortilla filled with cheese and other ingredients, then grilled or fried. They can be added as a filling with cheese, meat, or vegetables.
- Tamales: Tamales are a traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa (corn-based dough) and can be filled with different meats, cheese, or veggies, refried beans are also a common filling option.
- Huevos Rancheros: a traditional Mexican breakfast dish, it consists of fried eggs served on a tortilla and topped with refried beans, salsa, cheese, and avocado.
- Chile Relleno: A chile relleno is a roasted, peeled, and stuffed chili pepper, it can be filled with cheese, meat, veggies, or refried beans.
- Nachos: Nachos are tortilla chips topped with cheese, jalapenos, and various other toppings, and refried beans are a common topping option.
- Burritos: A burrito is a type of Mexican dish made of a large flour tortilla wrapped around a filling of rice, beans, meat, cheese, salsa, and various toppings, refried beans are a common filling option.
These are just a few examples of how refried beans are used in Mexican cuisine, there are many other traditional and modern dishes that use refried beans as an ingredient or side dish.
A traditional Mexican dish made from mashed pinto beans.
Servings: 6 people
- 1 pound dried pinto beans rinsed and picked over
- 1 onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup lard or vegetable oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Soak the pinto beans in water overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse the beans before use.
In a large pot, add the soaked beans and enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Let the beans simmer for about 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender. Drain the beans and reserve the liquid.
In a large skillet, heat the lard or oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the cooked beans to the skillet and mash them with a potato masher or a fork until they are well mashed. If the beans are too thick, you can add some of the reserved liquid to reach the desired consistency.
Season the beans with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the beans are heated through.
This recipe yields 6-8 servings. You can also add spices such as cumin, chili powder, or oregano while cooking the beans to give them more flavor. If you prefer a vegetarian option, you can use vegetable oil instead of lard.