At most Mexican restaurants outside California and major cities, the beans contain lard. When they don’t, the go-to alternative is hydrogenated vegetable oil aka Crisco.
I find this frustrating, though I do understand the logic behind it. Crisco adds calories, which prevents starvation and wasting. In parts of Mexico and Latin America, certain populations/communities are in danger of this, or at least want to prevent it. Over the course of the last 50 years, the standard “Mexican restaurant” fare in the United States reflects this. Therefore, despite the fact that refried beans do not require fat (neither vegetable nor animal) to taste delicious and provide nutrients, the tradition of using it to cook beans, rice, meats, etc. has prevailed.
I look at this issue the same way I see soup preparation in Ecuador. No, there is no need to add a bottle of vegetable oil to the soup served to school children. An overload of empty calories from an industrially-manufactured bottle of pure processed fat won’t help their nutritional intake, and will do little more than taint an otherwise healthful vegetable soup.
In any case, here is my recipe for “refried” anasazi beans.
* The Anasazi (“Ancient Ones”), thought to be ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians, inhabited the territory of southern Utah, southwestern Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, and northern Arizona now known as the Four Corners, from A.D. 200 to A.D. 1300.
Refried Anasazi Beans
1 cup dry anasazi beans
1 fresh tomato
1/2 medium onion
1 dried chili de arbol
salt to taste
Soak anasazi beans overnight in enough water to cover them x2 or a 1 : 2 ratio of beans : water.
Add 1/2 tsp salt to the water and simmer beans in a pot or use a slow-cooker.
When beans are ready, turn off heat but keep the pot covered.
Dice the tomato and onion.
In a skillet, saute tomato and onion without oil. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, scrape the tomato and onion from the bottom of the skillet as they carmelize (about 4 minutes).
In a blender, add 1 the beans and the sauteed onion+tomato. No need to strain the beans beforehand; a bit of water/bean juice is good. *Tip: use a ladle to transfer from the pot to the blender, and tilt to remove excess liquid. Remove the chili before blending for mild beans; leave in for extraordinarily spicy beans. I leave in the pepper, fyi.
I tried this method several times, and each time the consistency turned out a perfect, yet much healthier replica of the “restaurant-style” variety.
Blend until smooth.