Refried beans are not really fried at all but – after cooking in water – mashed in a pan with lard. This sounds odd-not to say distinctly unhealthy – to contemporary Western ears, but a small amount of good homemade lard delivers a wonderful flavour. In this recipe the typical Mexican amount of lard is halved, then used with an equal amount of olive oil.
Soak the beans in cold water overnight or for at least 4 hours. Discard any beans that float to the top.
Bring the beans to the boil in fresh water and boil hard for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse under cold running water and return to the pan.
Cover with cold water by
Discard the bay leaves and chillies, then season to taste. Turn off the heat and leave in the cooking liquid for 20–30 minutes before refrying.
Over a moderate heat, melt the lard in a frying pan. Add the remaining onion, cut into thin strips, and fry, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Traditionally these are discarded, but don’t do so; when cooked more they will go crisp and make a terrific addition to the dish, so transfer them to another pan with a slotted spoon and continue frying over a low heat, stirring from time to time.
Add the olive oil to the lard remaining in the pan, then two
Scatter over the crisped onions. If liked, crumble over some feta. Serve with corn chips as a dip or as a side dish.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.