Start to finish: 15 minutes / Servings: 4
Traditional refried beans involve an overnight soak followed by cooking, stirring and mashing the beans to the desired consistency. It is a bit more of a commitment than most of us can make on a weeknight.
So we came up with a fast—as in 15 minutes—and simple approach that uses canned beans and lets the food processor do most of the work. We found pinto beans slightly sweeter and creamier than black beans, but both worked in this recipe.
We loved the rich flavor lard gave the beans, but if you’d rather keep this vegetarian, olive or vegetable oil worked, too. For a smoother texture, process the beans longer after removing 1 cup in the first step. For a thinner consistency, stir in more water. Serve as a side with shredded cheese, sliced scallions or chopped onion, or spread into a torta, folded into a quesadilla or burrito, or spooned over nachos.
Don’t remove the remaining beans from the food processor after measuring out 1 cup. Set aside until needed later.
Two 15½-ounce cans pinto or black beans, drained
4 tablespoons lard, olive oil or vegetable oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
⅓ cup water, plus extra for thinning beans as needed
½ cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon lime juice
1. In a food processor, pulse the beans until coarsely chopped, about 7 pulses. Transfer 1 cup of the beans to a bowl and set aside. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium, heat 2 tablespoons of the lard until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook until the onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, coriander and oregano; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the chilies and adobo sauce and cook, breaking up the chilies with a spatula, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Transfer the onion mixture to the processor, reserving the skillet; pulse until coarsely chopped, about 7 pulses. Add the water and pulse until the onions and beans are coarsely pureed, 7 to 12 more pulses. Set aside.
3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of lard to the empty skillet and heat over medium until barely smoking. Add the reserved cup of beans and cook until they begin to brown and most of the lard has been absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the pureed beans, then spread the mixture to the edges of the skillet. Cook, without stirring, until the beans begin to brown at the edges, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir the beans well and repeat the process twice more. Off heat, stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Taste and season with salt. Adjust the consistency with additional water.