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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Refried Beans

Awhile back Taco Bell changed their menu (again) and brought back an item that I hadn't seen in at least 12 years.  I used to order them all the time because they were vegetarian and didn't have onions or tomatoes.  Tostadas.

If you've never heard of a tostada, Taco Bell's tostadas are a flat crunchy corn tortilla topped with refried beans, lettuce, cheese, and red sauce.  As I grew up I got over my distaste for ground beef so these tostadas are not vegetarian.  Also, I've never found anything that quite replicates the red sauce at Taco Bell, but I think they're just as good with taco sauce on them.  Simply spread some refried beans on a tostada shell (you can buy them in the Mexican section at the grocery store or you can make your own by frying corn tortillas), spoon on some taco meat, top with lettuce, shredded cheese, and taco sauce (and diced onions and tomato if you like) and eat like a pizza... well, a personal size pizza that you didn't cut into slices.

You could totally use canned refried beans, but I happen to think they taste like cardboard turned into paste.  Refried beans are probably one of my favorite things about Mexican food.  I used to love to go out for Mexican because it always meant fantastically creamy and cheesy refried beans.  I've never quite mastered the creaminess they achieve, but this recipe is still quite good.  I found it almost a year ago on Annie's Eats and couldn't resist trying it that very night.

I've made this recipe with navy beans, pinto beans, and black beans.  Pinto beans are my favorite, but they are all satisfying.  I like to use them to make my own double decker tacos like they make at Taco Bell, and they're great with enchiladas, quesadillas, chicken taco casserole, and tacos.  I particularly like them in taco salad and on nacho slop (a recipe I plan to share this summer), and tonight I went for tostadas.

Refried Beans

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups (or 1 can) cooked beans (pinto, black, navy, whatever kind you like)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
shredded cheese for garnish

Heat the oil over medium-high heat, in a medium skillet or saucepan.  Add the beans, garlic, cumin, and cayenne pepper.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add about 2/3 cup of the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook about 10 minutes, until the beans are soft and easily mashed.  

Remove from heat and mash.  You can do this with a fork or potato masher or in a food processor.  I sometimes use a fork and sometimes use my Ninja processor.  It just depends on what texture of beans you want.  Add the remaining broth as needed during mashing.  When your desired texture is reached, adjust the seasonings to taste and serve warm.

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