If you read a previous post, you know I am a big fan of beans. I will deal with one in particular today- pinto beans. Having never been exposed to Mexican food until I moved away from home (Taco Bell doesn't count) at age 18, I never put much thought into how simple, yet fulfilling Mexican and Latin American food is. Just like many of the simple foods we enjoy now (meat and potatoes type dishes), Mexican food is really rather simple. Simple ingredients, uncomplicated processes and over the top in flavor are all ways to describe it. Quite simply, it's peasant food, and I say that with nothing but respect. The many ways beans, rice and beans and rice can be put together to make filling meals is incredible.
Take refried beans. I must admit, I was stuck with the can for years. I discovered a recipe for refried beans right here on Allrecipes that showed just how easy it is to make. Pinto beans, seasoning and fat (lard is best, but bacon fat will do) is all that is really needed. I bought 2 two pound bags of pintos. I rinsed, soaked and cooked them until they were tender. Now I did something that the purists would likely shun me for. I didn't refry them! I picked apart several recipes and the best I could figure, the refrying is done to help remove most of the cooking juices from them. I figured I would try a batch without refrying and they seemed to come out excellently. I actually ran the beans through my food processor with enough juice to make it wet enough to process until it was smooth. I added bacon fat, garlic and salt & pepper for flavor. OUTSTANDING!! I bottled it and stored in the freezer. Whenever I need some to make burritos or as a side, I pull it out of the freezer and it's ready to go.
I am sure you can add you own seasonings to your liking, such as chili powder, onions, fresh chilis, extra garlic and/or lime juice. Again, the purists may not like the method, but the savings in making your own is incredible. A can is anywhere from 75 cents to over $1.50. A 2 pound bag is only a buck and a half and the quantity doubles after they are cooked. You also control the quality and once you make your own, a can of beans just won't cut it anymore