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hot hot hot a southwestern meal 
by Yee-Fan Sun | 
1 2 3 4
continued from page 2

refried beans
Yes, I know: Mexican food purists will insist that refried beans should be made with lard, the traditional fat used. And yeah, I'll concede that refried beans made with lard are the best. But lard just isn't an ingredient I ever have sitting around in my pantry, and hence I make do with the far healthier cooking oil instead. I promise, these beans will still be mighty tasty.

3 Tbsp. cooking oil (you want something neutral flavored, like canola)
1 small-medium onion, chopped as finely as possible
4 cups lightly drained cooked pinto or black beans, with extra bean liquid reserved*
1/2 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste (start with about ˝ tsp. salt and a few good sprinkles of fresh ground pepper)

serves 6 as a side dish

* You can use canned if you prefer, but I generally cook up dried beans and freeze them as it's way cheaper.

1 Heat up the oil over medium heat, and sauté the chopped onion until really soft and lightly golden, about 8 minutes. Add the beans and sauté for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat low. Grab a potato masher and start squashing up the beans in the pot. If the beans seem too dry, add a little more bean liquid until the texture gets creamier. (If you don't have bean liquid, water works too, although it's obviously less flavorful).

2 Once the masher stops doing anything, switch to a wooden spoon or spatula. You can use the spoon/spatula to squash any remaining whole beans against the side of the pot. When the beans have reached the desired consistency (pretty much up to personal preference; I like a nice balance of smooth mash with some definite chunks; if all the squashing in the world still yields something too chunky for your taste, you can use a hand blender to VERY lightly zizz things up), season with cumin, plus plenty of salt and pepper to taste. You can also add some cayenne pepper or hot sauce if you like. Cook for another five minutes or so to let the flavors meld, adding more liquid if necessary and continuing to stir.

3 The beans can be served as is, either plain or topped with some grated melty cheese, or used in burritos, enchiladas and the like (it'll make enough to fill four generously portioned burritos).

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