Frijoles de Fiesta (Fiesta Refried Beans)
Fiesta refried beans are a must for quinceañera celebrations in the state of Sonora, and variations can be found in just about every carne asada gathering, taqueria and home. They belong to the category of frijoles maneados, a name that comes from having to constantly use your hands, manos, to stir the pot to get the texture right. Maneados are made with creamy pintos or buttery mayocoba beans that are cooked, mashed and cooked again in lard or oil. As they thicken, melty cheese is added. Fiesta refried beans go a step further by including fresh, dried or pickled chiles, and meats like chorizo. This version gets its peppy flavor from Colorado chiles and its smoke and spice from chipotles in adobo sauce. Salty crumbled Cotija crowns the dish. Aside from being fundamental to Sonoran carne asada tacos, these beans can also be slathered on flour tortillas for burritos, dipped with chips, filled in quesadillas, layered on tortas, scooped next to grilled meats or have eggs sitting over them. They are so accommodating that they end up in almost every Sonoran meal, becoming essential.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 1pound dried pinto beans, rinsed (see Note)
- ½large white onion
- 1tablespoon kosher or sea salt, plus more as needed
- 4dried Colorado chiles (also known as California or New Mexico chiles), or guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 1to 2 whole canned chipotles in adobo, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 3tablespoons vegetable oil or lard
- 8ounces asadero, quesadilla, Monterey Jack or Oaxaca cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
- 1ounce crumbled Cotija (about 1/4 cup), for garnish
Step 1Place pinto beans in a large pot and cover with 14 cups water. Add the onion and set over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, skim off any foam that may have risen to the top, partly cover with a lid and cook for 1 hour.
Step 2Remove the lid, stir in salt, partly cover with the lid, and cook for another 15 to 30 more minutes, until beans are completely cooked through and tender and the liquid is tinted from the pinto beans.
Step 3Meanwhile, place the dried chiles in a small saucepan, cover with water and set over high heat. Once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, until chiles have rehydrated, softened and plumped up.
Step 4Remove the lid on the beans, and, using a slotted spoon or a pair of tongs, discard the onion.
Step 5Working in batches if needed, add the cooked beans along with 2 cups of their cooking liquid, the dried chiles, the chipotle chiles and the adobo sauce to a blender or food processor, and pulse until the mixture forms a coarse purée.
Step 6Heat the oil in a large, heavy casserole or sauté pan set over medium. Once hot but not smoking, carefully add the bean purée, as it will strongly sizzle and splatter. Stir well, incorporating the hot oil into the bean mixture. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan as the refried beans continuously attempt to create a crust, until the mixture thickens.
Step 7Stir in the grated cheese, and continue to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom and the sides, until the mixture thickens to a thick purée that holds its shape, and a clear trail can be traced in the bottom of the pan.
Step 8When ready to serve, scrape into a bowl and garnish with the crumbled Cotija. Beans will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Reheat them in a saucepan or skillet with a couple tablespoons of water over medium and mash as they warm up, since they have a tendency to thicken once chilled.