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Mexican food is one of my favorite cuisines; right up there with Italian, Greek, French, Indian, German, Puerto Rican, Turkish, Southern, Spanish, Americana… Okay, I just like food. A LOT. I’d love to eat and drink my way around the world in a culinary tour; the kind that would take months and months or even years. Now THAT’s a fantasy!
Back to Mexican food – a Fiesta for your mouth. One of my dearest friends, Martha, is Mexican and makes some of the best food all from scratch, and almost never uses a recipe. She was a real cook when it was still popular to use boxes and mixes and frozen cheats. In fact, she had so much trouble trying to figure out how to make a blue box of mac and cheese that I had to go over and show her how it was done. We still laugh about that.
Martha made the most amazing refried beans, from scratch of course. They would be simmering on the back of the stove for hours, making her house smell soooo good. (*insert drool here*) So when I saw this recipe for refried beans in the crock-pot, I was muy emocionado (very excited).
The recipe is from Lisa’s blog, 100 Days of Real Food. Since my family is trying to eat a more real and healthy diet, this was a major bonus. On to the Pin Test!
The ingredients are real, honest, and basic.
Add the water and stir,
…then cook on high for 8 hours. Can I just take a moment here to say how wonderful it is to cook with a crock-pot? Put in the ingredients, set the temperature, and walk away. How great is that!? Add to that the wonderful aroma wafting through the house – oh, yum!
Fast forward 8 hours, and the beans are fully cooked, there is very little water left, and I’m salivating.
The recipe said to remove the onion chunks and drain the water before mashing. I didn’t see any water so I removed the onion and commenced with mashing. I guess I didn’t think about the liquid that the beans had absorbed over the past 8 hours, and should have tried to drain them after all. Even so, the texture didn’t seem overly runny and I couldn’t wait to dive in. After a quick taste check I thought the beans were a bit bland, so I added a bit more salt and pepper, then plated them for my husband’s approval.
Let me mention that my husband is part Mexican and has been eating home-made refried beans since he was able to eat solid food. He still thought they were lacking something. We diced up some onion and mixed it in with a bit of Tabasco. That helped a lot, but these were definitely not like the ones I remembered from Martha’s kitchen. My husband said they are traditionally cooked with lard, oil, or some kind of pork meat that would render fat and flavor. I called Martha to get her opinion, and she said they missed the second cooking step, which is to fry them in a skillet while mashing them, which is where they get their name – REFRIED BEANS – of course!
So now for the results.
Overall Rating: 4 Pins
Accuracy: The recipe seemed to work well, but it lacked the authenticity of flavor that comes from making refried beans the traditional way. I will definitely make these again, but will add a little more jalapeno, will cook them with a bit of salt pork for the flavor, and will fry/mash them in a skillet with a bit of oil or bacon. Watch for the update when that happens. For now, 3 Pins.
Difficulty: This dish was simple to put together in the crock-pot, and the steps were few and easy. 5 Pins
Time: Although it took 8 hours of cooking time in the crock-pot, the prep and finishing time was roughly 15 minutes total. 4 Pins
Cost: Beans, onions, garlic and spices are cheap cheap. Even if you had to buy every ingredient, this would cost roughly $5-6. 5 Pins
Practicality: I think most everything is best home-made, and this is no exception. As stated before, I would definitely modify the recipe a touch, but I prefer the crock-pot method (and being able to walk away, prepare before work, etc.) to the stove-top method and needing someone at home to keep watch. 4 Pins