So even though I said in my nachos post that I couldn't make nachos for my husband's birthday because we already served nachos to the people that were coming over for the birthday dinner, it turns out that nachos were his heart's only birthday desire. And when my husband actually expresses a true birthday wish, I can't refuse. It happens like never. So last night we had nachos.
BUT! I knew I had to step it up a notch, so this time, in lieu of Amy's Vegetarian Refried Beans with Green Chiles, I made refried beans from scratch. Oh you heard me. From scratch! I grew the beans and everything! Just kidding. I don't grow things, except babies and thighs, but I did make refried beans from dried beans and they were great. And way less intimidating than I'd imagined.
As far as photographic documentation is concerned, well, I really tried. But refried beans are not the hit that they are because they're pretty.
There's my best shot. Literally. They look like... refried beans.
Homemade Refried Beans
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Yield: about 4 cups (which is way more than you need to put on nachos for eight people!)
1 pound dried pinto beans
1 bay leaf
3 quarts water
3 tablespoons bacon fat/lard/olive oil (I used the fat from the sausage I cooked for Aunt Judy's Egg Casserole on Saturday)
4-5 green onions, white and pale green parts finely chopped
2 jalapenos, finely chopped (remove seeds if you want the spice to be milder (like me))
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt & pepper
1/2 cup water (or maybe broth if you have some lying around?)
juice from half a lime
Rinse and drain the dried beans. Place the beans and bay leaf in a large pot or dutch oven and cover with three quarts water. Bring to boil. You will hear a weird noise that I have never heard before when I've cooked beans - it is the beans jumping. Seriously. I am not sure if this is a unique characteristic of pinto beans (perhaps the reason for the phrase "Mexican jumping bean"?) or if it happens to other kinds of beans too when there is no pre-soak involved (I have never not pre-soaked dried beans before), but either way, it's sort of interesting (at least if you are me, and you stay home with your baby, and you sometimes watch Full House reruns on ABC Family to add a little dialogue to your day). Once the water boils, lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 2-1/2 hours. (As in "two and a half." Or 2.5. Just making sure my font is not misleading in any way.)
After about 2.5 hours go by, check the beans, they should be sort of peeling a bit and v. soft. Drain them. Add your fat of choice to the pan and add green onions and jalapenos. Cook and stir over medium heat until soft (2-3 minutes) and then add the beans back into the pan. Add the cumin, and a good few shakes of salt and pepper. Stir until the beans are coated in the oil and spices, then add the water or broth. Mash the beans with a potato masher until they are the consistency you want. Add more water or broth if you prefer a saucier pot-o-beans. Once the beans are mashed perfectly and heated through, remove from heat and add the juice from half a lime and cilantro.
I think that if you use olive oil, and add an extra jalapeno or double the cumin or otherwise spice 'em up, these would make a great nachos topping for vegetarian nachos. In fact that's what we might end up having for dinner tonight... because evidently we really like our nachos in this household.