That’s cowboy beans and refried beans for you gringos.
For the past several months, we’ve stacked up the dried beans that we’ve gotten from the CSA. Not because we don’t like them; rather, it takes just as much effort to make a big batch of beans as it does a small batch, and we might as well make a bunch and pop containers in the freezer for later. Now, we could make up all the beans as one dish and freeze that, but we thought we’d put together two types at once.
In this case, when making charro beans and refried beans, you cook the beans the same way, or at least we do, then you scoop out the beans that you want to use as charro beans, pack those away, and make refried beans from the rest.
Oh, if anyone doesn’t know it: refried beans aren’t re-fried. They were never fried to begin with, so we couldn’t very well re-fry them, could we?
Finally, we are making a huge batch of beans, but obviously you can cut down the recipe.
Makes 16 cups (1 gallon) beans
If you don’t have red chile pods, you can substitute ground chiles, or even chili powder. How much? We’d probably do it to taste, just because you know how spicy you want your beans, and how hot your chili powder is.
Procedure in detail:
Soak beans. Pick over your beans and remove any small stones, pieces of dirt or other detritus, then put them in a large kettle. We use a 1.5-gallon kettle for this many beans. Cover with water to a depth of about 4-5 inches. Why? Beans will swell up as they soak and the topmost beans will be pushed right out of the water. Cover and let beans soak overnight.
Drain and rinse. In the morning, pour the beans into a colander and rinse. Rinse out the kettle, too. Now, put the 14 cups of water, chile pods, salt, and bay leaves in the kettle. Cover and place on high heat and bring to a boil.
Add beans. Pour the beans into the boiling water and allow to come back to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally for 1 to 2 hours, or until beans are tender. Remove bay leaves and chile pods.
Cook onions and garlic. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat and cook the onions and garlic until soft, tender, and just starting to brown on the edges, about 15 minutes for this amount of onions. If you make a smaller batch, they’ll cook faster.
Season beans. Add the cooked onions and garlic, along with any remaining oil, to the beans and stir. Add the liquid smoke, stir thoroughly, and simmer, covered, for an additional 30 minutes.
Cool. Your frijoles charros are done; after the beans have cooled, package into containers and freeze, or, if you’re feeding about 30 people, start serving.
Drain. Now, to make frijoles refritos, simply drain and reserve the remaining liquid, and mash the beans with a potato masher. If needed, add reserved liquid until you reach your desired consistency. We like ours a little thick and not runny, so we had to add about a cup of the reserved liquid.
Freeze. Now package the frijoles refritos in appropriate containers and freeze for another day.
We happened to save some of the frijoles refritos for our lunch of bean and rice burritos. We like these better than those that come in a can from the store, mainly because scratched frijoles aren’t as salty. Four stars.