Thursday, May 28, 2009

For the Love of Beans . . . WITH Pictures!

You will need:
  •  6 cups beans
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2-3 T. lard or bacon grease

1.  Pick through 6 cups of beans.  2.  Pull out the funny looking beans, rocks, dirt clods.  3.  Rinse in colander. 

1.  Pour the rinsed beans in the crock, fill with water, stir around to allow the floating beans and any debris to rise to the top.  2.  Scoop out the "undesirables".  3.  Strain and rinse several times until the water is clear.
When the water is clear, place the beans in the crock. Add: 
  • one medium, chopped onion 
  • one minced garlic clove
  • one teaspoon of salt
  • 1 good scoop (2-3 T.) of lard  
Fill with water. Cover, with the lid and a towel folded in half.  Set to high and go find something to do for a couple of hours.   Check to see if it needs more water, mine usually does.  Add water, stir the bottom beans up to the top.  Cover again and check again in another 2 hours.


Melt enough bacon grease or lard in your skillet to make it about 1/8 inch depth.    Pour in the drained beans and stir them around to fry them.  2.  I try to brown them a little before mashing them with the good old fashioned potato masher for nice chunky texture.  You can also use a mixer if you want, for a little smoother texture.  Be careful, they can be flung out and they are hot!! This method usually keeps some of the beans whole or at least not as smooth as if you did it in a blender or food processor.  3.  Getting a little browned.  Time to add some liquid.
1.  Add some bean juice if they are too dry.  2.  Some milk instead of bean juice can make them so nice and creamy while adding some more calcium.  Another way to get that powdered milk down your family if they don't want to drink it!!  3.  Don't forget the VERY critical step, quality control, AKA as "QC".   This is good to do with a salty chip so that you can judge if you need to add any salt while adding the other seasonings you decide to add . . . it's time to do that!


Here is the way to make them.  You can use a mixer, for a little more texture, a blender or food processor for very smooth texture.

1.  Drain the beans the same way that you do for refrying them.   2.  After whirling them, add bean juice, a little milk or salsa to make them the consistency you would like. This will make very smooth dish that will have no whole beans left unless you add a few.   3.  And then don't forget . . .   the big "QC".   Now decide what seasonings you would like to add, and of course, QC again . . . to make sure you have it just right!

Seasonings For Beans and other Mexican Foods

As I said in my original post about beans, falling on financially tight times taught me a lot.  I would cook 6 qts of beans each week.  The first night would have just plain beans with a little cheese.  I would split the rest into half and make refried beans with some and chile beans with the rest.  Oops, I forgot the liquid smoke and canned diced tomatoes.

Since I put the directions above for refried beans, I will just give some tips for chile beans.  This will depend on your taste, so I won't really give exact amounts.  It usually changes from week to week for me, depending on my cravings and how much ground beef,  I have on hand.

  • Cooked beans--If you don't have some left-over, get a #10 can of the ranch style beans from Costco or Wally world.  These already have the red chile powder in them.
  • Ground beef--cook  while scrambling it up.  ***Chorizo-- I almost forgot to mention this!  If you don't know what it is, try Mexican sausage.  It has actually become fairly common and not too hard to find, at least in the western US.  It can add quite a bite and really lots of flavor.  Use it instead of ground beef.
  • Onion--I will usually add medium, diced onion
  • Garlic--yes I cheat, I keep the minced garlic in a jar in the fridge.  BUT, if I was using fresh garlic, I would use 1 clove, minced
  • Canned green chile--I always buy the big #401 cans (27 oz.)  I use about 1/4 can, diced.  Sometimes I go wild and use about half a can.  they are very mild and don't add much bite to the mix, just a nice peppery taste.
  • Bay leaf-- I just like the taste of them and it seems to bring out the beefy flavor of the ground beef.   If someone gets in their bowl at the table, they get to wish for something.  My 4 yr. old grandson is waiting for his rhinoceros
  • Canned petite, diced tomatoes--I use a #401 can
  • Red chile powder-- I use about 1 t. of the mild kind.  Sometimes, I use the crushed red chile flakes.  Since there are seeds, they usually add more "zest".
  • Tomato paste--This will make the "broth" thicker.  I have found that those of you in the colder climates seem to prefer this style ;-) 
  • Liquid smoke--1/4-1/2 t.--I do love a little bit of a smokey flavor.  Some left-over home smoked salmon I snagged out of my brother's fridge years ago had me hooked.  I love to smoke my own meats, etc. now.  This is a quick "fix" when I can't afford to do that for lack of time or good ribs, chicken . . . Nuts! . . . now I'm hungry!!
  • Cumin--This can add such a nice subtle flavor.  Just use a sprinkle.  I have had a fair number of dishes that got overdosed on cumin ,  takes all the fun out of it!