Recently I had a hankering to make a pot of beans, which is interesting considering the last time I made a pot of beans was about 3 and half years ago and they were pretty underwhelming. Bland, a little hard despite hours of simmering (in hindsight I realized they were probably really old), and gave OMF and I wind as recall. That last attempt left me feeling like canned beans were plenty good enough until this week when I made beans so good I wonder if canned beans will ever suffice again.
Now here's the deal... a lot of time cooking at home I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl. Usually, I only use a recipe when guests come over. For the most part when I set out to cook I just sorta do what seems to make sense or emulate something I've had somewhere else as best I can. When I get stuck I turn to the internet or a very few trusted cook books. With that caveat in mind here's the beans.
Day one whole:
The night before I took an ample bag a beans, about 4 cups and soaked them in water 'til morning.
The next day I put the beans in a crockpot with:
1 white onion quartered
2 large poblano peppers chopped in big chunks
1 large carrot broken into four pieces
4-5 cloves of garlic smashed but intact
1 large bundle of oregano
2 bay leaves
Once everything was in the pot I covered the whole mess with about 3 inches of water and turned the crockpot to high. As a helpful side note it's best to put the oregano on top to make it easy to extract later. After 45 minutes on high I turned the heat to low and went to work. Several hours later I returned to a delicious smelling house and a perfectly cooked pot of beans. After fishing out the carrot stumps, oregano, bay leaves, and as much of the garlic as I could find I began adding salt. This is key. Always add the salt at the end. Because this recipe is largely crafted according to eyeball I just added the salt until it tasted good. In the end I added 2 tablespoons.
Boom there ya go round one is complete! Eat your beans with a taco or all on their own. Delish!
Day two refried:
Feeling full of myself having successfully made delicious whole beans the next logical step was a stab at refritos.
In a cast iron skillet set to medium high heat put in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and one medium onion chopped. Cook 'til the onion becomes slightly translucent.
Add two cloves of garlic minced, 1 teaspoon of cumin, and a dash of cayenne. Continue to cook for about a minute.
Add your leftover beans with about half of their cooking juices reserving leftover liquid to reconstitute the beans with if they get too dry. Cook stirring often until the juice reduces and the beans form a thick paste.
Look at that, you're done again! Enjoy your beans with tortillas and an avocado or cheese and chips. Whatever suits you.
I know it sounds like this all has been a lot of work but really it's nothing. Day one took about 10 minutes to get started and day two wasn't much different than sauteing a pork chop or heating a can of soup. The difference in taste is huge.
Next time I think I'll use bacon instead of olive oil in the refritos just to get fancy.