I am fortunate to work with a few immigrants from Mexico, who have taught me the way of refried beans. What with all the Mexican grocery stores nearby, I felt somewhat ashamed buying beans from a can, when I longed to be part of the dried bean tradition (and not to mention, much cheaper). I thought there would be much planning ahead with soaking and whatnot. I couldn't have been more wrong.
I was instructed to purchase peruanos, or Peruvian beans (the name of the bean, and not their provenance), not pintos. Apparently pintos are not easy to cook. Peruanos are a snap, with a slow-cooker (aka Crock Pot).
Here's the recipe:
1. Right before bedtime, wash the beans, throw in some coarsely chopped garlic, add water, cover and turn the slow-cooker to low.
2. When you wake in the morning, mash with a potato masher, and add salt.
3. This is the step where you would fry the beans in manteca (aka lard), which is so delicious that the first time I ate authentic, homemade refried beans I blurted, "This is so good I want to kill myself."
But we don't want saturated fat causing premature heart disease, so we don't do step #3.
Easy, homemade, delicious (way, way better than from a can) and a low, low price. If you have a Mexican grocery store nearby, dust off your Crock Pot & give it a whirl!