refried beans

When made this way, refried beans are very flavorful and excellent as a side dish and in nachos and many Southwestern dishes. They are the basis for burritos.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

2 tablespoons butter, bacon drippings, or lard
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped Spanish onions
4 cups cooked pinto beans or 2 (16 oz.) cans pinto beans
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup mixed shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, optional

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, and as soon as it starts to turn golden, add the onion. When the onion begins to soften, add the pinto beans with a little liquid and mash them well, using a potato masher or heavy wooden spoon to completely mash the beans as they fry, adding additional liquid as needed.

Fry over medium heat about 15 minutes, turning to prevent burning, until the beans reach a thick, pastelike consistency. Top with cheese, if desired, and serve piping hot. Place under a hot broiler to completely melt the cheese for added flavor.

An internationally recognized authority on the regional cooking of the American Southwest, Jane Butel has published 18 cookbooks, including several bestsellers. She operates a full-participation weekend and week-long vacation cooking school; an online school; a mail-order spice, cookbook, and Southwestern product business; and conducts culinary tours and team-building classes. Through her writing, teaching, and television projects, Butel seasons the country’s melting pot with the Southwest’s rich culinary, cultural, and historical heritage. Learn more at