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Refried beans (Spanish: frijoles refritos) is a dish of cooked and mashed beans and is a traditional staple of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, although each cuisine has a different approach when making the dish. Refried beans are also popular in many other Latin American countries.
The name is a direct calque of Spanish frijoles refritos, refritos meaning "well-fried", and not "fried again" as might be assumed from the use of re- in English. The prefix re- could be used as an intensifier in Latin, as evident in e.g. resplendent, a meaning that has been inherited by Spanish alongside the more common meaning indicating repetition.
In this dish, after being boiled and then mashed into a paste, the beans are sometimes then fried or baked, though usually neither, thus making the term "refried" even more misleading.
Ingredients and preparation
In northern Mexico and in American Tex-Mex cuisine, refried beans are usually prepared with pinto beans, but many other varieties of bean are used in other parts of Mexico, such as black or red beans. The raw beans can be cooked when dry or soaked overnight, then stewed, drained of most of the remaining liquid, and converted into a paste with a masher (such as a potato masher), or pressed through a fine mesh sieve (to remove the skins). Some of the drained liquid, or chicken or vegetable stock, is added if the consistency is too dry. The paste is then baked or fried, usually with onion and garlic in a small amount of lard, vegetable oil, bacon drippings or butter and seasoned to taste with salt and spices. Lard is generally used more often in Mexico, and it has a large effect on flavor. Epazote is a common herb used to add a special and unique flavor.
In a home meal, refried beans typically serve as the main food accompanied by smaller, more strongly flavored dishes, but they may also be served as a side dish accompanying a larger meal, or rolled in a tortilla to form a bean burrito.
In the US, refried beans are most commonly made from pinto beans. They are served as a side dish with most Tex-Mex restaurant meals. They also have become very popular as a dip for corn tortilla chips. Refried beans are also a primary ingredient in many tostada, chimichanga, and pupusa recipes. In addition, they are a typical ingredient in layered dips, such as 7 layer dip or in nachos.