I am becoming addicted to using dried beans ... a pound of regular dried pinto beans is usually under $2.  I’ve even seen some bulk dried beans for around $1 a pound.  And for organic dried beans - you’re only looking at a few more dollars.  Love it.

I usually start with a cup of dried beans.  I use some of the cooked beans whole (not refried) in various dishes.  And some I use as refried beans.  So this essentially makes enough for during the week and some for the freezer.  Adjust amount for your needs.

Even though I use my pressure cooker to cook the beans - I still soak them overnight - or for at least 4 hours.  Just rinse and pick through the dried beans - there might be small pebbles, debris, etc., that you want to remove.  Then place in a large bowl and cover with cold water - enough to cover by a couple of inches.  Then place a lid or plastic wrap over the beans and leave at room temperature (unless it’s warm in your home - refrigerate).

The beans will expand as they soak and the water will likely turn a little cloudy.  I dump this soaking water and rinse the beans thoroughly before cooking.  You can see the kind of sludgy-looking water and that may contain stomach-upsetting “stuff” that you just need to rinse and rinse away.

And those are the steps to doing an overnight soak of your beans - pretty much the same steps you would follow for any dried bean recipe. ** Quick Soak Method - (here).

You can see how 1 cup of beans really expanded into 2-3 times - you really get a lot for your money.  Plus I love being able to control what I add.

Now - for cooking the Pinto Beans - because my end goal is to use these as Refried Beans - I go ahead and add some flavorings to my cooking water.  I found this recipe in a pressure cooker book in Miss Vickie’s Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes.  All I do is add cilantro (1/2 cup of leaves and stems) - as well as a fresh jalapeño pepper, minced and seeded.  Add this along with your beans to the pressure cooker pot - along with enough water to cover by 2 inches.  I end up using about 10 cups of water.  For really basic beans - see the Basic Kidney Bean Recipe (just omit the dried pepper for less heat).

And then to account for foaming that will take place while cooking the beans - add 1 Tablespoon of oil to the top of the water (don’t stir) - and lock the lid of your pressure cooker into place.  * I do not add salt or acidic ingredients (tomatoes, lemons, etc.) to my cooking liquid - most people say it prevents the softening/cooking of the beans - I add plenty of salt and flavorings at the end, to taste.

Be sure your burner is on high so that the pressure cooker can reach high pressure - (on mine indicated by the yellow indicator raising up).

Once pressure has been reached, lower the heat on your burner to somewhere between low and medium - you want to just maintain the pressure, not increase it.  If you have an electric pressure cooker - this is pretty simple because it regulates it for you.  Because mine is a stove-top cooker - I had to be near the stove until I got a good feel for what I needed to set my burner on so that my pressure didn’t drop.  It’s not a big deal if it does, just heat the burner to a higher temperature until the pressure is reached again - beans are a good practice food if you’re not as confident yet.

I cooked mine for 12 minutes (setting the timer only after high pressure had been reached and I turned the heat down).  Once the 12 minutes was up - I shut the burner off  (saving energy because my burner only was on for about 15 minutes total).

Although the heat was off, I didn’t remove my cooker from the burner in order to naturally release the pressure - for 20 minutes.  * I just set the timer for 20 minutes after the 12 minutes were up and I had turned the burner off.  After 20 minutes, my pressure had still not fully released - so I quickly released the steam with the steam release knob.

Then - I carefully opened the lid - turning it away from me.  I wanted my beans to easily mash between my fingers - and they did.  I have hard water - and so I fight that when cooking dried beans ... you may not need as long.  You just have to play with it - you can always cook longer if you want to start by erring on the side of under-cooking.

Once the beans were done - I drained the water off (bean broth) - and set the broth aside.  And then I spread my beans out on a baking sheet.

I kept the cilantro and jalapeño in with the beans.  You could certainly pick them off, but they are so soft - they will just mash right in.

And then I took a small masher and started to literally mash the beans.  You could do this in a skillet - and combine cooking and mashing all in one - or you can do it this way.  I like mashing them this way when I’m cooking and don’t want to rush myself.

Next I cut up my vegetables.  I used a poblano pepper - milder in comparison to the jalapeño in the cooking liquid.  I also cut up a white onion.

I use my multi-chopper so that the onions would all be about the same size.  You could add whatever vegetables and spices you like.  You can make this as chunky or as smooth as you like.  It’s just plain fun!!

Ok - time to get the satisfying “refried” part going.

I use the pot of my pressure cooker to get my onions and pepper softened.  The recipe I used calls for 1/4 cup of bacon drippings to cook everything in.  It adds another dimension of flavor that’s hard to get from another type of cooking fat.  Use what you’re comfortable with.

Along with my onions (the recipe calls for 2 onions for 1 pound of beans), I added my poblano chile and 2 cloves of garlic - once that was very soft (not browned, about 8 - 10 minutes) - then I added my mashed beans and 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin. 

Eric and I love a ton of flavor - so I added garlic powder (in addition to the garlic cloves) and of course, salt.

Then stir to mix all this deliciousness together!

Then look to that reserved bean broth to add in order to keep the beans at the consistency you like - and it keeps them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Plus it adds a lot of nice flavor!

* For the bean broth - once it has cooled for a few minutes, I place a large freezer-safe zipper bag inside one of my 2 quart pails.  And then I carefully pour the broth into the zipper bag.  Then it’s super simple to dip a measuring cup in for adding broth to the refried beans.  I usually divide up the bean broth into 2 & 4 cup portions that I freeze individually.  You can add the broth to soups and other dishes - especially if you have vegetarian friends.

Some recipes call for adding cheese or other flavors such as paprika, chili powder, taco seasoning or even cayenne pepper.  Some use beer to thin out the beans, instead of the broth.  So have fun playing with the possibilities.

I like to start with a basic, nice flavored recipe before I divide the batch up for meals and the freezer - then I know that the batch in the freezer is fine for whomever might be eating the next meal.  Once I’ve separated out what’s going into the freezer - then I can doctor up the batch I am going to eat during the week however spicy we want.

I usually like a little squeeze of lime over my beans - and cheese and more cilantro - and sometimes hot sauce - especially if I’m going to use them with eggs for breakfast!

A satisfying, inexpensive dish - that can be the star of the show or used to compliment your personalized meal.