Beans. Beans. Beans. 🔪
Ingredients for servings
In a large pot, cover the beans with cold water by at least 2 inches. Add herb sprigs, the whole onion half, and garlic cloves and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until beans are very tender, about 1 to 2 hours. Season with salt.
Drain beans, reserving bean-cooking liquid. You should have about 3 cups of cooked beans; if you have more, measure out 3 cups of beans and reserve the rest for another use. Discard herb sprigs, onion, and garlic.
In a large skillet, heat lard, bacon drippings, or oil until shimmering, or butter until foaming, over medium-high heat. Add minced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and lightly golden, about 7 minutes.
Stir in beans and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of reserved bean-cooking liquid. Using bean masher, potato masher, or back of a wooden spoon, smash the beans to form a chunky purée; alternatively, use a stick blender to make a smoother purée.
Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until desired consistency is reached; if refried beans are too dry, add more bean-cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed. Season with salt and serve.
Epazote, a Mexican herb, can be found at Mexican grocers. To add other flavors to the refried beans, try sautéing a pinch of ground cumin or fresh chilis with the minced onion, or puréeing toasted dried chilis into the mixture.
Different cooking fats give different flavors to the beans; lard is one of the most traditional, and it adds a porky, funky depth to the beans that’s hard to beat; bacon ups the ante even more by layering in a smoky flavor; vegetable oil keeps things neutral so you can really enjoy the flavor of the beans and the aromatics; and butter is decadent and rich without being overpowering.