Refried Beans for a small army

This is my recipe for the refried beans in my bean and cheese burrito every day. It started out as a way to reduce my salt intake, but now Jordan relies on it for a midnight snack. I make as much as will fit in my pressure cooker, which is enough for about 8 lunches and a week of midnight snacks. It is inspired by recipes in Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass. (An excellent cookbook, several of the recipes are regular dinners in our home.)

Makes 9 cups, about 10 generous servings.

Add to pressure cooker:

  • 4 cups dried black or pinto beans
  • 2 T vegetable oil very important
  • 1 T garlic powder or granulated garlic
  • 1 t salt

Fill the cooker to the half-way mark with water, seal the cooker, and bring it to pressure. Once the pressure regulator is rocking gently, cook for 30 minutes for black beans, or 40 minutes for pinto. To cook, place the cooker in the sink and run cold water over it until the pressure valve releases.

WARNING: if you forget the oil, the beans will foam and clog the pressure cooker. The cooker will explode, causing burns and severe injury to anyone in the vicinity. Don’t forget the oil! (This hasn’t happened to me.)

While the beans are cooking, fry until the oil is fragrant and colorful:

  • 12 dried arbol chile peppers (available in the Hispanic section of the grocery store.)
  • 3T or a vast, unmeasured quantity of vegetable oil

Set aside the chiles. If you like your beans mild, discard them and keep the flavored oil. I use a huge amount of oil, mainly Smart Balance and/or olive oil. It makes the beans smoother and more filling, so I don’t crave more cheese or other less healthy sources of calories.

In a large sauce pan, fry in the oil until onion is limp:

  • 1 large (2-3 C) onion
  • 1 T whole cumin, or 1/2 T ground

Add, and fry until onion is lightly browned:

  • 1/2 T dried oregano

In a food processor, mix the onions, beans, and some or all of the arbol peppers. This will take several batches. Mix the batches under medium heat in the saucepan, adding water and/or liquid from the cooker. Keep in mind that the beans will get thicker as they cool. If desired, add more salt to taste.