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3 quarts


Mama Ofi’s Refried Beans

Ofelia Berber "Mama Ofi"

Mama Ofi’s Refried Beans are a traditional family favorite that is the perfect side dish to any authentic Mexican meal.



  • 1 pound dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup bacon grease
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1½ cups (about 6 ounces) grated Monterey Jack or Swiss cheese for garnish


Place beans in a kettle, cover with water, and soak overnight.

When ready to cook beans, add additional water to cover. Place on stove and bring to a boil. Add chopped onion and garlic and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook on low heat, covered, for 2 hours, stirring about every half hour. Beans should be very tender. Let beans cool slightly, then place about 2 quarts of the beans, including some of the cooking liquid, in a food processor or blender (in batches if necessary) and process until mixture is thick, but not completely smooth.

In a large skillet, heat the bacon grease until nearly smoking. Add the puréed beans and fry, stir until mixture is bubbling. Stir in salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Add remaining whole beans and enough cooking liquid so the beans will hold a soft shape, but are not stiff and dry. Continue to fry, mashing the whole beans with the back of a spoon, until desired consistency (some texture makes a more interesting dish). If necessary, thin with additional cooking liquid or water.

To serve, top with grated cheese.

Makes about 3 quarts

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