The mainstay of the traditional Mexican diet is tortillas and beans. And not just any beans…pinto beans. A common question among English speakers is why they are called “refried” beans, since they are made from beans that have not yet been fried. The answer is in a mistranslation of the Spanish word “refritos,” which actually mean “very” or “well” fried, not fried again!
You actually can use red or black beans for this dish, but the traditional frijoles refritos (and the ones prepared at my house) are made from pinto beans. Sugar beans can be substituted with no significant difference in the outcome.
Beans, whether boiled (see Bean Soup) or fried, are an essential part of the delicious burrito, and a healthy addition to your diet.
2 cups cooked pinto or sugar beans
1 cup liquid from the bean pot
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 roasted Anaheim chili, cut into small pieces
1 small jalapeño, minced and seeded (optional)
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp chili powder (optional)
2 tbsp lard or oil
Salt to taste
Grated Monterey Jack or other mild white cheese
Mash beans into a paste with potato masher or fork. If too dry, add liquid, a few tablespoons at a time, until a creamy paste is achieved.
Heat lard (oil) in bottom of heavy skillet. Sauté onions, garlic, chili, cumin and chili powder until onion is translucent. Add bean paste and cook until beans are warm through. Salt if necessary,
Top with a spoonful of cheese and serve as a side dish or as part of a burrito or other Mexican dish.