Making a Mexican meal involves making good beans. And for me, serving them from the can, even when you doctor them, does not cut it. Besides that, beans are so easy to make - they just take some time but you don't even have to pay attention until it is time to refry them and mash them. Also, don't mash them all as it is good to have some texture from some whole beans. Having good Refried Beans to go with Spanish rice makes the meal for me along with fresh made Salsa. Refried beans are not actually fried, but they are cooked twice and the second time involves some fat or oil - I use olive oil to make it lighter. This recipe is a classic. Make sure to soak the beans overnight and then throw away the soaking water as this is supposed to make the beans less gassy. You can also cook the beans with Epazote, which is also supposed to help. I use the pressure cooker as it is so fast and I often make the beans the day before I am going to use them. Once the beans are cooked, it only takes about 10 minutes to make perfect Mexican beans!
2 cups Pinto Beans
Water to soak bean
6 cups water to cook beans
Small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Salt to Taste (at least 1 teaspoon)
In a large pot, soak the beans overnight with water to cover. Drain and add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours and beans are soft. Or, put the beans in a pressure cooker, add 1 Tablespoon of oil and cook for 25 minutes. Cool completely before opening. Drain beans but reserve bean cooking water.
In a lage frying pan, heat oil and add the onions. Cook until translucent and just beginning to brown. Add in drained beans, chili powder and Cayenne and begin to mash the beans. Add in 1/2 cup of the cooking water and continue to stir and mash most but not all of the beans. Add an additional 1/2 cup of the bean cooking water as the mixture gets too thick. You will use between 1 1/2 - 2 cups of liquid. Taste and salt as desired. Serve, sprinkled with cheddar cheese.
Five Element Analysis
Beans are a Water Food so that element is covered. The onion and cheese add the Metal Element and the Chili Powder and Cayenne ensure that the Fire Element is present too. But, the Wood and Earth Elements are not present. So, beans are especially good when served with Corn Tortillas and beef for some Earth or Flour Tortillas and Rice for more Metal, Salsa for more Fire and Chicken or green vegetables for some the Wood Element to create a balanced five element meal.