Our family loves refried beans. Frugal and nourishing, refried beans can be used in a variety of dishes. Some of our favorites include in bean and rice tacos, beef and bean or just plain bean burritos, tostadas, as a side to enchilladas or in taco salad. Refried beans taste great when paired with salsa, guacamole, cheese...the list goes on and on!
I love to use beans to stretch meals, often times replacing half of the meat called for in a recipe with beans. They are a wonderful source of both protein and fiber, and at about $1.50/lb., a far more frugal option than meat!
I prefer to make my refried beans, simply because they require a lot of cooking time to make them super-soft, and I don't feel comfortable simmering on the stove that long! This way, I can just soak the beans all night, throw them in the crockpot in the morning and they're done in time for dinner. I find the flavor is a lot better with this method as well.
Crockpot Refried Beans
Soaking Step (optional): Place beans in a large glass jar with lid, or a large bowl would work as well--just cover with a towel. Add enough water to cover the beans, plus 1 inch. Add an acid medium to help release phytates in the beans. I find that apple cider vinegar or lemon juice work well with beans. Cover and leave to soak overnight or at least 10 hours. In the morning, drain and rinse before using.
Place 1 lb. dried (preferably soaked) pinto beans in crockpot along with about 6 cups of water; cover with lid and allow to cook on high about 4 hours; check to see if additional water is needed. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer another 6 hours. Remove and drain liquid; return beans to crockpot. Cover just above the beans with your choice of stock, chicken or beef. (I prefer beef, just for the rich, deep flavor.) Simmer on low, about 3 hours, or until beans mash very easily with a fork. Mash beans, in the crock, to the consistency of your choice. Season to your taste. I like to season them very simply with salt and a clove or two of minced garlic.
I freeze any leftovers in 1-cup portions in freezer bags.