Refried Beans and Mexican Rice
Beans and rice are a staple in a Mexican household. Beans alone are welcome in any meal. Every family has their own special way of preparing beans and rice. I find a lot of people do not take the time to make homemade beans. I completely understand because I used to find cooking beans a little burdensome. Cooking beans in a pot filled with water often times kept you tied to the stovetop making sure the beans aren’t burning, and wondering if they need more water. When you are short on time the easiest way to make beans is in a crockpot. Cooking beans in a crockpot gives you the freedom to move about and not worry about water levels on the stovetop. There are a couple ways to enjoy beans. Frijoles de la olla, which translates as “beans in a pot,” are not refried. They are cooked in their own juices to release a caldo, or soup. The beans sit in a slightly thick bean juice if you will. Frijoles de la olla are the healthiest way, and in my opinion the most delicious way, to eat beans. To make the beans spread for family gatherings you can refry them. Refried beans are the most common way you will see them in restaurants. To refry them you have to add a fat. The fat is the cooks choice varying from lard, oil, or cheese.
Every Mexican will tell you that their Mom makes the best rice. So it should be no surprise when I say my Mom holds the crown. Mom’s rice is perfect and no matter how hard I try or how many times I’ve watched her, I can not make it as good. She doesn’t measure anything. It’s just pure expertise. This recipe is my best effort to imitate her rice. In a restaurant you will find drier flakier rice but in a home preparation it’s a little wetter and slightly overcooked on purpose. Some will add corn and peas in the rice, or simply toss with a little cilantro.
Time-3 hours for Beans 20 minutes for Rice
Ingredients for Beans
1 lb of pinto beans, 7 cups of water, 1 tsp salt, and 1 bay leaf (optional).
Refried 1/2 cup of shredded jack cheese and charred Serrano pepper.
Ingredients for Rice
1 cup of high quality long grain rice, 1 TBS olive oil, 1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, 1 1/2 tsp of kosher salt, 1 1/2 tsp of granulated garlic, 1 tsp of Mexican oregano, 1/4 tsp of cumin, 2 cups of water, and cilantro for garnish.
Preparation of Beans
Spread all the beans on a tabletop and check for rocks. Beans are a product of the earth and when harvested rocks are often mistaken as beans. Place beans in crockpot and throw away rocks.
Add water and bay leaf to crock pot but do not salt until beans are cooked. Cook on high with lid on and beans should take 3 hours. Cook on low for 6 hours of cooking time.
When the beans are done fish out bay leaf and season with salt. The beans will be perfect with some queso fresco crumbled on top and served as is.
If you would like to refry them you have a few options. You can sauté some onions in oil and then add cooked beans and use a potato masher and smash until desired consistency. You can add lard or 1/2 cup of shredded jack cheese and mash until refried.
In my household we commonly use cheese and lard on special occasions. I like to char a serrano pepper and dice it up into my beans with some queso fresco.
Preparation of Mexican Rice
In a skillet on medium heat add oil and brown rice. Browning will take rice from bright white to cream colored. This may take about 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce and reduce until liquid is gone. Careful tomato sauce may splatter a bit.
When tomato sauce has evaporated and looks like the picture above add water. Place burner on high and season with salt, garlic, cumin and oregano. Mexican oregano needs to be placed in the palm of your hand and rubbed together to wake up and crush it down to size when adding to the rice.
When rice comes to a boil place lid on skillet and reduce burner to low. Set kitchen timer for 12 minutes and rice will be ready.
You can enjoy rice as it is or add any vegetables or herbs to jazz it up. I like to garnish with micro cilantro.
- Jasmine Rice works well if you don’t have long grain rice.
- If you prefer to add some heat to the beans add a chile pepper while cooking.
- You don’t need to soak beans the night before for this recipe. However, soaking beans does help with gas associated with the consumption of beans.
- If you are soaking your beans, soak for 8 hours. Discard the soaking water before cooking the beans
- Beans freeze really well. I store them in two cup containers so they are ready when I need them. You can freeze them up to 8 months. They can be refrigerated for 3-5 days if covered.