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Easy Homemade Refried Beans

Serves 3 to 4

I really love refried beans, but the canned versions are pasty, salty, high in fat and, in my opinion, rather tasteless. Making your own is quite simple. You can start with dried beans, but I usually do not have time for that. Plain canned beans are a very good alternative. Be certain to rinse and drain them before use. This recipe takes just a little more time and effort than store-bought and you get to control all of the ingredients and flavor for a quick, easy, healthy and delicious side dish or filling for tortilla wraps.

   Optional Garnishes

Heat the bacon drippings or oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until tender and just starting to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin and chile powder; cook another minute. Add the beans and water. Cover; reduce heat to medium and simmer until beans are very tender and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes, adding water if the beans get too dry. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper or more of the spices as desired. Mash the beans with the back of a fork, leaving some texture. Serve as is or with the optional garnishes.

Notes: I prefer ancho chile powder in this recipe, but you can use a hotter powder, such as chipotle, or regular chili powder if that is what you have on hand.