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? There are various kinds, but at present (2019) I think that kidney beans are probably the rest. That's what appear to be in the amorphous mass that you see in most US Mexican restaurants. But I've tried others, including a mix of kidney beans and black-eyed beans, and that tastes good too.

Frijoles de la olla


For normal packaging

quantity       ingredient       step
1000 g       dried beans       1
300 g       onion       2
40 g       garlic       2
20 g       chili, cut into lengthwise strips       2
80 g       lard       2
8 g       epazote (or 2 bay leaves)       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 beans       1
225 g       onion       2
30 g       garlic       2
15 g       chili, cut into lengthwise strips       2
60 g       lard       2
6 g       epazote (or 2 bay 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. 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 another 30 minutes or so, until soft but not disintegrating.

  4. Remove the chili strips and epazote or bay leaf.

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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