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Refried Beans

Refried beans (frijoles refritos) is a dish of cooked and mashed beans and is a traditional staple of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, although each cuisine has a somewhat different approach when making the dish.

Ingredients and preparation
In Northern Mexico and in American Tex-Mex cuisine, refried beans are usually prepared with pinto beans, but many other varieties of bean are used in other parts of Mexico, such as black or red beans.  The raw beans can be cooked when dry or soaked overnight, then stewed, drained of most of the remaining liquid, and converted into a paste with a masher (such as a potato masher, or pressed through a fine mesh sieve (to remove the skins), or simply with a fork (or the back of a large flat spoon).

Some of the drained liquid, or chicken or vegetable stock, is added if the consistency is too dry.  The paste is then fried with lard or vegetable oil and seasoned to taste with salt and spices.  For vegetarians, or in cases when lard is unavailable, it can be replaced with oil.

Usage
In a home meal, refried beans typically serve as the main food accompanied by smaller, more strongly flavored dishes, but they may also be served as a side dish accompanying a larger meal, or rolled in a tortilla to form a bean burrito.

In the US, refried beans are most commonly made from pinto beans. They are served as a side-dish with most Tex-Mex restaurant meals. They also have become very popular as a dip for corn tortilla chips.  Refried beans are also a primary ingredient in many tostada, chimichanga, and pupusa recipes.  In addition, they are a typical ingredient in layered dips, such as seven layer dip, in nachos, and are especially implied when a dish is referred to as nachos grande or burrito grande.

Name
The name is based on a mistranslation.  In Mexican Spanish, the prefix re- is an informal form of emphasis meaning "very" or "well", not to be confused with the English re- and formal use of the Spanish prefix re-, which indicates repetition.  Thus, frijoles refritos, the Spanish name of this dish, would translate to English as "well-fried beans," not "twice-fried beans."

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