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Refried Beans with Spicy Pickled Nopales

  • ACTIVE: 45 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME: 3 HRS 45 MIN plus 2 hr soaking
  • SERVINGS: 8

The recipe for these creamy beans with addictive slices of tangy pickled cactus paddles was created by Laurence Jossel with Jose Ramos and Gonzalo Guzman at the Mexican restaurant Nopalito in San Francisco. The chefs use chocolaty Rio Zape beans from Rancho Gordo, but garden-variety dried pintos also give the classic dish a pleasing richness.

  1. 2 cups dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked over, then soaked for 2 hours and drained
  2. Kosher salt
  3. 3 tablespoons lard or bacon fat
  4. 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  6. Warm tortillas, crumbled queso fresco, and Spicy Pickled Nopales, for serving
  1. In a saucepan, cover the beans with 2 inches of water and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 hours. Add water as necessary to keep the beans covered by 2 inches. Season the beans with salt and let stand for 5 minutes; drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the lard. Add the onion and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 7 minutes. Add the beans, oregano and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Using a potato masher, coarsely mash the beans. Add more of the reserved bean liquid until the mixture is thick but not soupy. Season with salt. Transfer the beans to a bowl and serve with the tortillas, queso fresco and Spicy Pickled Nopales.

Suggested Pairing

Carmenère, a French grape, has found its home in the vineyards of Chile. The spicy red provides a nice contrast to these creamy beans.

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