16 oz. pkg. pinto beans,
1/4 lb. salt pork
1 onion cut in half
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove minced
4 slices of bacon
Salt to taste
Follow the directions on the package of beans to soak them overnight if you'd like. I'm following my mom's method who never soaked the beans but only cooked hers low and slow. It took about four hours from the time I rinsed them to the time I took them off the heat. Seems like my mom cooked them all day but I think she started them early and then just kept them warm and ready to eat by lunch time.
So when you start cooking your beans on low heat, add the salt pork, the onion half and the garlic and let simmer for 3-4 hours until beans are tender. Keep a close eye on it so that liquid does not get below the beans, always keep it above the beans. I always have a large glass of water next to the stove to add to the beans as needed. Add salt to your liking just be careful because the salt pork flavors it quite a bit.
So if it were up to me, I would stop here. The beans are ready and I love eating them whole but I promised the hubster that I would make him refried beans. So when the beans are done, remove from heat, remove the salt pork and the onion and set aside. Reserve the liquid.
Start frying the bacon. Render all the fat, then remove & keep the bacon meat for another recipe, save whatever bacon fat that came off the bacon. Keep the skillet and grease on medium heat.
Add the onions, saute and stir constantly until tender and translucent (do not burn it)
So, this is the part where my mom would be throwing fits if she saw me do this. Instead of smashing the beans with a potato masher, I'm putting them in my mixer bowl. . . . . . for a reason. . . . . I used the paddle attachment for my mixer and mashed the beans that way, please don't hate me!
To the beans in the mixing bowl I added the sauteed onions, all the bacon fat from the cooked bacon. I also added about a cup of the reserved bean liquid and paddled away with the mixer set on low.
So I gave hubby a list of items I needed from the grocery store. One of them was to get me some "Cacique" Mexican cheese. I even added a picture of the Cacique cheese on the list to show him what it looked like. This is what he came home with. . . . . , I didn't say anything, I know he tries and I'm thankful that he's willing to go above and beyond for me. I can make this work.
After I mashed the beans I added a cup of the cheese and stirred some more. Keep stirring and if it looks too dry as some more bean liquid. Mix until it's almost a creamy consistency. I didn't mind leaving some lumps, it gave it some texture which I like.
Finally, pour the bean mixture into a 2 qt. casserole dish. Cover and place in a preheated 275 degree oven. I wasn't in a hurry so I probably had them in the oven a good 1/2 hour. The cheese melted perfectly!
These beans were a hit at our family gathering for even the "bean skeptic", she changed her mind and decided to have some afterall after her first bite. These beans had a great flavor due to the salt pork and bacon, what a difference it makes. I think my mom would like these too. The only thing I'll add next time is some chili powder, these beans needed a little kick.
Happy Cinco de Mayo week and remember to savor every moment!