Here in China it is difficult to find refried beans, and almost impossible to find dry pinto beans. We have been using red kidney beans in most of our recipes. But we have had to go to a store that sells imported food to buy refried beans, so we decided to make them ourselves. We made a large quantity, so I just divided up the rest in ziplock bags and froze it. Then over the next couple of weeks, whenever I needed refried beans, I just pulled out a bag. It tasted just as good as it did the first day I made it! I think from now on, even after I return to America, I'm going to make my own refried beans, and freeze them.
This recipe is simple, and I don't have exact quantities. You can vary it according to your taste. But trust me, you can't do too much wrong if you follow this recipe.
Dry beans (pinto, kidney, or black)
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
oil or shortening
Soak beans in water over night. You should make sure they are covered with at least 3 inches of water. I would suggest using at least a pound of beans.
Drain the beans and put in a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer at a low boil for about 2 hours until beans are soft. Make sure they are soft! If they are older beans, they might take longer. Or, you could also cook them for about an hour in a pressure cooker. (Once the pressure lid starts to "whistle", reduce heat. When they are done, let them cool for about 20 minutes before opening the lid. If you try to open it right away, you could get scalded, or they might explode.)
In a separate pan, heat about 2 TBL of oil or shortening. Add the onion, and cook until softened and golden brown. Add the garlic the last couple of minutes. Add the beans, and begin to mash with a potato masher. I add a little water at this point just to keep the pan from getting too dry. My husband adds oil, but I don't like that much fat in my beans.
When the beans are mashed well, and have thickened up, add a little milk. That little bit of creaminess really helps the texture. Season to taste.
When the beans have cooled, you can bag up the leftovers in freezer bags to be used another day!