Greg's frijoles de la olla y refritos
Beans, cooked and refried
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Frijoles refritos (refried beans) are an indispensable part of Mexican cooking; as the name suggests, there are two cooking steps. First you simmer them in water, let them cool down, and then fry them. It's possible to use the intermediate step, which, it seems, are called frijoles de la olla (beans in a pot). Before I knew that, I called them frijoles cocidos (cooked beans).

What kind of beans? I've used kidney beans with good results, but the prototypical beans are the Mexican frijoles negros (black beans).

Frijoles de la olla


For normal packaging

quantity       ingredient       step
1000 g       dried frijoles negros       1
300 g       onion       2
40 g       garlic       2
up to 25 g       chili       2
80 g       lard       2
120 g       epazote branches       2
72 g       epazoteleaves       2
480 g       tinned tomato       2
1.35 l (?)       water       2
60 g       salt       3

480 g of tinned tomato is a 2 400 g tins: there's only 60% tomato in typical tins.

Unfortunately it's not possible to buy sane quantities of beans in “metric” Australia: they come in 375 g bags. Here are the same quantities for 2 375 g bags:

quantity       ingredient       step
750 g       dried frijoles negros       1
225 g       onion       2
30 g       garlic       2
up to 19 g       chili       2
60 g       lard       2
90 g       epazote branches       2
55 g       epazote leaves       2
360 g       tinned tomato       2
1 l (?)       water       2
45 g       salt       3


How long do you boil? It depends on the beans. The times I give below are correct for some beans that I have used, but it can take up to 6 hours. It's worth checking at the end of step 2 and during step 3. The beans should be soft, but they shouldn't be falling apart.

You shouldn't put the salt in at the beginning: it will make the beans tough.

  1. Bring the raw beans to a boil in a saucepan, boil for two minutes, and leave to stand for two hours. Discard the water.

  2. Blend the onions, garlic and chili in the tomato. Add the other ingredients, excepting the salt. The water should be enough water to cover by about 10% the height of the beans. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

  3. Add the salt and continue to simmer for about 5 hours or so, until soft but not disintegrating.

  4. Remove the epazote as far as practical.


How much epazote do you use? I have plenty, so I use plenty. I'm still experimenting with this; see my diary article for 1 May 2021.

Chilis are always an issue, of course. It's a matter of taste, but the beans shouldn't be overly hot. The weights I have put in the recipe are for medium chilis, and they should be significantly less (70% less?) for hot ones

Frijoles refritos

Take a portion of frijoles de la olla (above) and fry in lard, mashing as you go, until any liquid has evaporated and you have a roughly mashed mass left. Don't make the US American mistake of making them into a purée.

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