Frijoles de Olla
“Pot beans,” as frijoles de olla translates in English, are incredibly versatile. A pot of stewy beans on hand — whether frozen or just cooked — can turn into homemade refried beans, form the foundation of a non-Texan chili, be mashed into a base for bean dip or used to fill burritos. I like a big bowl of these hot from the pot, often served with cornbread or warmed tortillas and long-cooked pot greens on the side. Try some chopped onion or cilantro and shredded cheese to garnish the beans.
- 1 pound (about 2 1⁄2 cups) dry beans of any type: red, navy, pinto, black, adzuki, speckled, what have you
- 2 tbsp bacon drippings
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
- 1 bay leaf, broken in half
- Salt, to taste
Adapted from motherearthnews.com
Sort the beans by spilling them onto a baking sheet and removing any debris and broken beans. Transfer the beans to a colander and rinse them under cold running water. Pour the beans into a deep, heavy, 4- to 6-quart pot, such as a cast-iron Dutch oven, with a lid. Add 2 1⁄2 quarts cold water (use filtered water if yours is hard), then remove any beans that float. Add the bacon drippings, onion, garlic and bay leaf. Bring the beans to a rolling boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to low so the beans are at a gentle simmer. Cover the beans, tipping the lid a bit, and cook until they are thoroughly tender, about 2 hours. Add boiling water to the pot as needed to keep the broth covering the beans at its starting level.
When the beans are completely tender, season with 1 to 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt and cook 15 minutes longer. Eat as is, with salsa and additional chopped onion, or continue to the next step for refried beans.
Makes 8 to 10 servings as a side, 4 to 6 servings as a main course.
Make Homemade Refried Beans With These Extra Steps
How to make refried beans: Drain the beans in a colander placed over a bowl to catch the broth. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat an additional quarter cup of bacon drippings or vegetable oil, then add the drained beans, a couple of spoonfuls at a time. Mash each addition of beans with a wooden spoon or, my preference, a potato masher.
When all beans have been mashed, stir in broth to give the beans the consistency of mashed potatoes — creamy, but with some larger bits. Taste and re-salt if necessary.