Updated: Jun 27, 2022
A classic Mexican staple takes a little bit of time, and a lot of pork fat.
1 c. dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked through
1/2 tsp. oregano (Mexican preferred)
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced, divided
1 guajillo chile, seeded, finely diced (optional)
3 oz. fatback, rinsed, diced small (optional)
1/3 c. lard or neutral oil
1 jalapeño, seeded, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
In a heavy bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, add the beans and cover with water by at least 2 inches. Cover with a lid and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and leave to soak for 1 hour.
Combine the oregano, paprika, cumin, salt, and chili powder in a small bowl.
Add 1/2 the onion, ancho chile, pork, and 1/2 the spice mix to the beans and their soaking liquid, adding more water to cover if necessary. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer the beans, uncovered for 1 1/2 hours. If necessary, add boiling water to keep the beans covered. Taste the beans to check for doneness and adjust salt. If the beans are not tender, continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes. Some liquid should remain in the pot when the beans are done, reserve 1 cup.
In a cast-iron skillet, heat lard over medium-low heat. Add the remaining onion and jalapeno and cook until softened, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the cooked beans, remaining spice mix and 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to the skillet. Cook beans for 3 minutes and mash with a potato masher until all beans are mashed and the mixture resembles a thick paste. Add a little more of the cooking liquid and continue mashing until beans are thick and smooth but not soupy and no whole beans are left. You may not need all of the liquid.
For super smooth beans, spoon the mashed beans into a blender or food processor and blend until you reach the desired consistency, thinning with the cooking liquid if necessary.
Finish with a squeeze of lime juice, chopped cilantro and queso fresco!