This recipe comes from both of my cookbooks. Considering my frugal cookbook is available for free to those who subscribe to our mailing list, I feel like posting them here too makes sense. Frugal recipes are becoming more and more important to have and I'll be posting several more in the near future.
Does it get much more frugal than beans and rice? I’m going to go ahead and say no. Not only is it a frugal combination, a complete protein when served together, but they are delicious too! I included this recipe (and the rice) in Supper Stories Vol 1, so if you already have the recipe, just keep on’ flippin. If you don’t yet have Volume 1, I figured you were going to need these two recipes! These are definitely another building block in my home, and I can remember a time when many of our meals were built on a 25 pound bag of each, but considering not everyone eats beans almost daily like we do, I figured I’d put them in this chapter instead. Let’s start with the beans!
Beans “En Bola”
(my Mother-in-Law’s name for them)
(Whole Pinto Beans, AKA “Frijoles de la Olla”)
Makes about 4 quarts
4 cups dry pinto beans
½ cup lard (you can use oil if you prefer)
½ of a yellow onion, quartered
2-3 sprigs of Epazote (Optional. Use it if you can find it.)
1 Beef Shank (optional. Add it if you’ve got the cash in your budget, omit if you don’t. They are delicious either way!)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (bragg’s or other “raw” ACV)
Soak your beans:
Put your beans in a large mixing bowl. Cover with water (about 2 inches over them) and stir in the ACV. Soak beans overnight if at all possible. Not only will the ACV help them break down and make them easier to digest later, but you’ll notice the texture is greatly improved by the soaking process! They will cook faster too.
When you’re ready to cook, drain, rinse and add the beans to your pot. If you forgot to soak them, you can do a stove top “hot soak” by boiling your beans, then removing from heat for an hour, covered. Drain, rinse and proceed. Any pot is fine, but I will say that if you stumble upon a clay “olla de barro”, your bean game will be instantly elevated. I found mine at a Mexican market for $18.00 and it is an absolutely treasure! If you’re using a clay pot, be sure to follow soaking directions first.
Add lard, onion, epazote (if you have it) and beef shank bone if you’re using it to the pot. Season beans liberally with salt; probably around 2 tsp. You will very likely add more later. Bring to a boil, cover then drop down to low heat and cook about 4 hours, stirring frequently to check for scorching until they are tender.
Instant Pot hot soak: If you are using the Instant Pot and did not pre- soak, put your beans, 1 tsp of salt and about 8 cups of water in the pot, set it for 4 minutes on high pressure then allow a 10 minute depressurizing time before releasing pressure. Drain, rinse and add back to pot.
To cook in the Instant Pot: Add about 8 cups of water back to your pot. Drop in your bone, lard, onions, liberal amount of salt (like I said above, at least 2 tsp and probably more) and epazote. Process the beans for 18 minutes then release pressure immediately when timer goes off.
Crock Pot option: Put soaked beans into your crock pot, cover with plenty of water and cook 4-6 hours on high, or until tender.
To Make Refried Beans: When the beans are done, I pull out the amount I need for that night, pulse them a few times in the food processor. (saves the mashing!) Heat a few pats of butter in a skillet, and add your smashed beans. Blend/process them with enough “bean juice” to make them smooth and creamy. Salt them as needed. (They will need it.) If they get too thick, add more “bean juice.” If they are too thin, just keep cookin’.
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