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03 June 2013 @ 01:00 am
Meat Extension Monday – Lazy Pinto Beans  

One of the blessings I had from being married to a Hispanic Texan was a comprehensive education on what “real” Mexican food is all about. That included learning to make my own “refritos” from scratch by the gallon. Not any easy task. Refried beans are like many traditional Mexican dishes labor intensive and time consuming. However when done well they are simply divine. And when done poorly well you might as well dump the batch and start over, because nothing is going to save them. Period.

I developed this dish as a way to achieve the same flavor profile as the traditional recipe without all the mashing and processing usually needed to get that classic creamy texture. Also since I don't refry the beans, there is far less fat than usual making this recipe a better option for the health conscious.

Lazy Pinto Beans                                                                                                                              Feeds 10-12

It only takes one bowl of home made refritos to prove to one why they are such a big part of the Hispanic diet. They are filling, satisfying and simply yummy. They are also surprisingly nutritious. In fact pinto beans are one of the most iron rich legumes humans eat.

1lb pinto, dry measure
1 small onion, diced
1 ham bone or ham hock
2 cubes Mama Roja
1T cumin, ground
Two 14oz cans of refried beans
2-3c H2O

Bowl for soaking to beans
Crock pot or slow cooker
Cutting board and knife
Measuring cups & spoons
Large serving spoon or ladle

Can opener
Mortar and pestle for grinding spices (optional)


  • Pour the dry beans into a colander, pick through to find any off looking ones or stones and rinse thoroughly. Transfer beans to a large bowl, cover with water and refrigerate over night.

  • The next morning begin by draining the beans in the colander and setting up your crock pot in a spot suitable for long term cooking.

  • While the beans are draining. Break down all the vegetation and add it to the crock.

  • Grind the spices.

  • Dump the beans, chili paste and spices in the crock. Stir well and nestle the ham down into the mixture.

  • Add should be just enough water cover the beans.

  • Cover crock and set for your longest lowest setting (8 to 10 hours).

  • When beans are soft, fish the bones out with the tongs. Save the meat off the bone, shred finely to mix back into the beans before service.

  • Then using a measuring cup dip out roughly half the liquid in the crock and reserve.

  • Open the canned beans and add to crock along with the shredded meat.

  • Mix well and add enough of reserved water to make the beans thin enough to serve but not soupy.

  • Like many legume recipes, this dish freezes very well and is actually better the second day.


  • Want to get most out of your spices? Buy them whole and then grind them as needed using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder. Whole spices keep their flavor longer on the shelf and once ground deliver more flavor to the pot.


  • Since I use canned refritos thicken the pintos and make them creamy there is no need to blend or mash anything before eating. However if you prefer a smoother product process all or just some of the beans in a blender or food processor before service.

  • Meat. Traditionally some sort of smoked pork is used. You can also use sausage, bacon or even smoked fowl to flavor your beans.

  • Spices. I usually make this dish kind of mild using just one to two cubes of Mama Roja, but you can up the peppers or even add crushed dried chilies for a different heat.

  • Condiments. Serve with chopped onion, hot sauce, sour cream or shredded cheese.

  • Combine with rice or fresh hot tortillas for a full meal.

    Frugally yours-