Rick Bayless’ Classic Mexican Fried Beans with Onions & Garlic

Refried beans are an essential side dish to every Mexican meal. I am a fan of Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Salsa Style Refried Pinto Beans- I am not sure if I should be embarrassed to admit it. 🙂 They are smooth-textured and tasty.

This dish, Frijoles Refritos, is very different- and delicious as well! The beans are coarsely mashed and thick-textured. I used pinto beans (my preference) but any type of bean could be used and each would have a unique flavor. I also used avocado oil, but I am sure that they would be even tastier with bacon drippings!

This recipe is from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-Class Cuisine. We ate them with Tacos of Creamy Braised Chard, Potatoes, & Poblanos. It would be pretty easy to just eat them as a dip with tortilla chips too.

Yield: Makes about 3 1/2 cups, 6 generous servings

  • 2 T vegetable oil, rich-tasting lard, bacon or chorizo drippings
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced or finely chopped
  • 4 cups undrained, seasoned cooked beans, preferably slightly warm for easy mashing (I empty the canned beans into a measuring cup and microwave them, in their liquid, for 2 minutes.)
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • about 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled queso fresco, or pressed, salted farmer’s cheese, dry feta or Parmesan, for garnish
  • cilantro, for garnish, optional
  • tortilla chips for garnish, optional
  1. In a large (10- to 12-inch), well-seasoned or nonstick skillet, heat the oil or pork fat over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cook for a minute or so.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to scoop in about 1/4 of the warm beans, leaving most of the liquid behind. With a potato masher or the back of a large spoon, mash the beans into a coarse puree. Add another portion of the beans, mash them in, and continue until all of the beans have been added and coarsely mashed.
  4. Add about a cup of the bean liquid (or water if you have no liquid) and stir frequently over the heat until the beans are still a little soupier than you’d like to serve them (they’ll thicken as they sit). They should have the consistency of warm mashed potatoes. The total cooking time will take 10 to 15 minutes. IMG_7474
  5. Taste and season with salt, if necessary.
  6. Serve sprinkled with crumbled cheese, cilantro, and tortilla chips, as desired.

Notes:

  • It is easier to mash warm beans than cold ones. (I microwaved the beans to warm them before adding to the pan.)
  • Cook the beans softer than you want them because the dish thickens as it cools.
  • If the dish is made in advance, keep the beans warm in a double boiler rather than over direct heat. Check consistency and stir in a little water, if necessary, before serving.

One Year Ago:

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Tacos with Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce (Camerones Enchipotlados)

These tacos were quite spicy, but the heat was easily counteracted by the mild toppings. The smoky heat from chipotle chilies is one of my absolute favorite flavors.

This dish was very quick to prepare. The recipe was adapted from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. (my last one to share… for now 🙂 ) I increased the amount of garlic and incorporated my CSA garlic scapes. We ate the shrimp filling in warm, soft corn tortillas topped with avocado, fresh cilantro, and sour cream. Perfect with refried beans on the side.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes (1 1/4 pounds), quartered
  • 4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, with sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds extra-large raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed and patted dry
  • 4 T lime juice, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, plus 2 garlic scapes, sliced (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, plus more to serve
  • 8 to 10 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed
  • diced or sliced avocado, sour cream, and lime wedges, for serving
  1. In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes, chiles, and any sauce coating the chiles, with 3/4 tsp salt until mostly smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 T of the oil until beginning to smoke. Add half of the shrimp and cook, stirring, until golden, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Repeat with the remaining shrimp, adding them to the bowl.
  4. Toss shrimp with 2 T of the lime juice. Set aside.
  5. Return the skillet to medium-high and add the remaining 2 T of oil. Add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and oregano and cook until just beginning to brown, 1 minute.
  7. Stir in the wine and any accumulated shrimp juice from the bowl. Cook until liquid is nearly evaporated.
  8. Add the chipotle mixture and simmer, stirring, until thick enough to coat a spoon, 10 to 12 minutes.
  9. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the shrimp, cover and let sit until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.
  10. Stir in the cilantro and remaining lime juice. Adjust seasonings as necessary.
  11. Serve with warmed tortillas, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, and lime wedges.

Sam Sifton’s Middle-School Tacos

We are counting down the days until the end of my son’s elementary school career. 😩 His 6th grade Graduation- a.k.a. “Moving Up” ceremony- is next Tuesday. So… it’s the perfect time to share this recipe for a popular Middle-School lunch! I’m getting him ready for his next chapter. ❀

The recipe for these “Middle-School ‘Gringo’ Tacos” was featured in a New York Times article titled “The Case for Hard Shell Tacos,” contributed by Sam Sifton. They were a wonderful upgrade from a taco kit. 🙂 I used ground turkey instead of ground beef, decreased the chile powder and red pepper flakes, and doubled the garlic. We topped them with grated cheeses, sour cream, guacamole, shredded iceberg lettuce, and chopped grape tomatoes. I served them with refried beans on the side as well. Great.

Of course, my kids absolutely loved them! Then they informed me that their school lunch tacos are served in soft tortillas. Funny. Maybe that’s an elementary school thing? We’ll see! 😉

Time: 30 minutes

For the Meat Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola, peanut or grapeseed
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 pounds ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1-2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (or substitute hot or sweet paprika)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock or beef broth, low-sodium if store-bought

For Serving:

  • 12-18 hard taco shells
  • refried beans, optional

Topping Suggestions:

  • grated cheese (I used both cheddar and Monterey Jack)
  • sliced jalapeños
  • chopped tomatoes
  • shredded lettuce or cabbage
  • sour cream
  • guacamole
  • lime wedges

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the oil. When it begins to shimmer, add the onion, and cook until softened and starting to brown, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, and cook for a minute or so to soften, and then the ground meat. Cook until it starts to brown, stirring and chopping with a spoon to break up the meat, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Pour off excess fat, leaving only a tablespoon or two in the pan.
  4. Add the chile powder, cumin, salt, pepper, cornstarch, paprika and red-pepper flakes, and stir to combine.
  5. Add the stock or broth, stir, bring to a simmer and cook uncovered until the sauce has thickened slightly, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. As sauce cooks, place taco shells (on a taco rack, if possible) on a sheet pan, and toast in oven until they are crisp and smell nutty, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Serve a few tablespoons of meat in each taco, along with whatever toppings you like.
  8. Serve with refried beans on the side, if desired.

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Greens & Cheese Quesadillas

I have received an exorbitant amount of Swiss chard in my CSA box so far this season. It’s a good thing that I absolutely love it! and… Who doesn’t love chard when it’s combined with fabulous cheese?!?!

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Gabriela Camara. I have made these quesadillas a couple of times with my CSA greens, using both raw milk extra (extra) sharp yellow cheddar (from Trader Joe’s) as well as Cabot extra sharp 3-year aged white cheddar. I have also used combination of greens including Swiss chard, turnip greens, beet greens, as well as baby bok choy.

I adapted the recipe by increasing the garlic as well as using a red onion, whole wheat flour tortillas, and chipotle salsa, avocados, fresh lime, and sour cream, for serving. I also microwaved the assembled quesadillas for a quick dinner! We ate them with refried beans on the side. Delicious.

Yield: Serves 4 for dinner or up to 8 as an appetizer

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as canola
  • Âœ medium white or red onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 10 ounces Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, or a combination of greens including beet, turnip, or bok choy, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • coarse salt
  • 6 ounces Toma cheese or sharp cheddar, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 8 whole wheat flour tortillas
  • Salsa Roja, Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa Verde, or Trader Joe’s Chipotle Salsa, for serving
  • avocado slices and lime wedges, for serving, optional
  • sour cream, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes.
  2. Add greens a handful at a time, letting wilt slightly before adding more. Pour in Âœ cup water and cook, tossing occasionally, until greens are tender, 6–8 minutes.
  3. Add lime juice; season with salt. Transfer to a plate; let cool.
  4. Assemble the quesadillas: Place on tortilla on a large plate. Mound grated cheddar on top and spread evenly. Top with sautéed greens and another tortilla.
  5. Microwave for 1 minute, 35 seconds on high.
  6. Remove and slice into pieces. Repeat until all filling is used.
  7. Serve immediately with sliced avocado, prepared salsa, and sour cream, as desired.

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Shrimp a La Mexicana Tacos

Let me tell you something… (This information may actually be quite obvious to some of you…) Cooking the shrimp in bacon drippings made this dish ultra-delicious. ULTRA. 🙂

I usually cook bacon in the microwave. (gasp!) I know that this may not be the best cooking method, but, as a complete neat freak, this method does eliminate a major cleanup. Fortunately, I pan-cooked a serious amount of bacon at some point in time and reserved the drippings. Yay! Perfect for these wonderful summertime tacos.

We ate these as a belated Father’s Day celebratory meal with skillet creamed corn, brown rice, and refried beans. The skillet corn consisted of fresh corn kernels which were also sautĂ©ed in bacon drippings. The mixture was then combined with a little bit of sour cream and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. SO good.

My husband is a great dad and deserved a super tasty celebration. He always selects his menu and really wanted tacos on his special day for two reasons. Not only does he absolutely love tacos, but, after a thorough search, he gave me fabulous taco racks as part of my birthday gift- he really wanted me to use them ASAP. 😉

He found a local company that makes functional and pretty stainless steel taco racks: www.TacoRack.com. The racks make assembling and serving tacos so much easier. I have always needed such an item in my kitchen! A great birthday gift for me turned into a yummy Father’s Day meal for him. 😉

This recipe was adapted from Rick Bayless.com. Great.

I’m sharing with Angie’s Fiesta Friday #129 co-hosted by Jhuls @The Not so Creative Cook and Colleen @Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 4 generously

  • 3 T lard, vegetable oil, bacon drippings, fat rendered from chorizo, or even butter
  • 3 serrano OR one large jalapeño, stemmed
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 ripe medium-large tomato, cored and diced
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed, and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (I used large/21-25 per pound shrimp)
  • a few sprigs cilantro, finely chopped
  • a big squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • 10-12 corn or corn & wheat tortillas, for serving
  1. Melt the lard or other fat in a medium-size skillet set over medium heat.
  2. Seed the chiles then chop them finely and add to the skillet, along with the onion and tomato. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened but is not brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
  3. Add the shrimp to the skillet, letting the shrimp cook until they’re almost done through, about three minutes.
  4. In the meantime, warm the tortillas in a tortilla warmer or on a plate covered by a moist paper towel and plastic wrap. (I place a damp paper towel over the tortillas in my tortilla warmer, cover, and microwave for 1 minute.)
  5. Add a big handful of chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, then scoop into a warm tortilla.

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Oaxacan Pork Picadillo Tacos

This is an easy upgrade to the typical Taco Tuesday ground beef tacos. Rick Bayless uses tomatoes and sweet spices to flavor the meat (ground pork) as well as nuts and raisins to add contrasting texture. Delicious!

We ate the picadillo in warm hard-shell taco shells with avocado slices, refried beans, steamed greens, and brown Basmati rice. A little sprinkling of feta or queso fresco was a nice garnish too. This recipe was adapted from Rick Bayless.com.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
  • 1 1/2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean, coarse-ground pork
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns OR about 3/4 tsp ground
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon stick OR 1 teaspoon ground
  • 5 cloves OR about 1/8 teaspoon ground
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 4 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • coarse salt (about 1 teaspoon)

  1. Pour the tomatoes directly into a blender and blend until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  2. Heat the oil in a large, 14-inch skillet over medium heat. (I used enameled cast iron.)
  3. When hot, add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.
  4. Add the pork in a thin layer and fry, stirring frequently, until cooked and lightly brown. (If quite a bit of fat has rendered from the meat, drain it off.)
  5. If using whole spices, add the pepper, cinnamon and cloves in a mortar or spice grinder. Add the ground spices to the skillet along with the tomato puree, raisins and vinegar.
  6. Simmer until reduced to a thick, homogenous mass, 30 to 45 minutes.
  7. While the filling simmers, toast the almonds for about 8 to 10 minutes in a 325 degree oven.
  8. Stir toasted almonds into the filling; adjust seasoning as needed with salt. Serve.

Note: The finished picadillo can be covered and refrigerated for 3 or 4 days.

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Chorizo-Potato Tacos

These tacos were so simple to prepare, I was a little bit skeptical that they would be good. But- once again– Rick Bayless didn’t let me down! (I am such a fan.) He said that chorizo is the Mexican version of bacon- it just makes everything better. In this case, a little bit went a long way. I seriously couldn’t believe how delicious they were!

This recipe was adapted from RickBayless.com. I used one pound of baby gold potatoes, jarred Frontera Jalapeño Cilantro salsa, and added feta cheese to the toppings. We ate them with sautéed greens, refried beans, and Basmati rice. Quick and fabulous!

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 pound (16 oz) baby gold potatoes (or other boiling potatoes), unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 12 oz fresh Mexican chorizo sausage, casing removed, about 1 link
  • 1 large white onion, cut into small pieces
  • coarse salt
  • 12 warm corn tortillas
  • 3/4 cup Frontera Roasted Tomatillo Salsa or Jalapeño Cilantro Salsa, or to taste
  • 1 avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and sliced
  • feta cheese, to taste, for serving
  • chopped cilantro, to taste, for serving

  1. Scoop the potato into a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, poke a few holes in the top and microwave on high for 3 minutes. (I used my new “steam ship” silicone lid which releases the steam in the microwave!)
  2. Lay the chorizo and onion in a very large (12-inch) skillet (preferably non-stick) and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently and breaking up clumps, until the fat renders, the sausage looks cooked, and the onions are translucent, about 6 minutes.
  3. Scoop the potatoes, leaving the steaming liquid behind, into the skillet and continue cooking until the potatoes are soft, about 5 minutes. If the potatoes begin browning long before they’re soft, reduce the temperature a little.
  4. Taste and season with salt if you think the mixture needs it—some chorizo is so highly seasoned, little additional salt will be needed.
  5. Cover the tortillas with a damp paper towel and warm tortillas in a tortilla warmer (or on a plate tightly wrapped in plastic wrap) in the microwave for 1 minute.
  6. To serve, scoop the mixture into a deep bowl. Set out with the feta cheese, cilantro, salsa, avocado and warm tortillas.

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