Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wow Beans (Refried Pinto Beans)

Refried beans are a pretty pedestrian thing to make. I make my own for bean burritos to keep in the freezer. I've been reading a lot about umami, known as the fifth taste. The other four are sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Umami imparts a more "delicious" and "savory" taste to food. There are certain ingredients you can add to a recipe to add to the "umami." I decided to apply those principals to my refried beans. Really, the beans I usually make are rather bland even with the spices and salsa I add. Wow! What a difference a bit of tamari and umeboshi vinegar made to my beans. I sat down and ate a small bowl, scooping the beans with some baked tortillas. No salsa, no nothing. It was really that good! I also like to add kombu to the beans while I cook them. It's said to reduce the "flatulence" factor and it does have some nutritional value. Something to keep in mind if beans make you toot!

1 cups dry pinto beans, picked over and soaked overnight
1 piece of kombu
1 TB olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, sliced and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 sp garlic powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
3/4 tsp Summit Spice Susitna Chili Blend or your favorite chili powder blend
1/2 tsp cilantro, dried
1/4 cup good beer, I used Sleigher Double Alt Ale, a rich dark beer
1 TB tamari* (Japanese soy sauce)
1 TB umeboshi plum vinegar*
1/2 tsp salt, to taste

Drain and rinse beans, place in pot and cover with water. Add kombu and cook for 1-2 hours until beans are well done. Drain cooking water and reserve a bit if you prefer not to use beer. In medium size saucepan, heat about 1 TB olive oil and saute onions for several minutes. Add garlic and saute a bit more until everything starts to get a bit brown around the edges. Add dry spices and saute for a minute. Deglaze pan with beer or reserved cooking water. Add the drained beans. Mash the beans and cook down a bit. Add tamari, vinegar, and salt. Taste and adjust salt if necessary.

*The tamari and umeboshi vinegar contribute to umami flavors so try not to omit.

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