From The Prairie Homestead
You know the “what would you bring to a desert island” game – the one where you name 5 possessions you just can’t live without? Well now think of it as the “desert kitchen” game, where you can only bring the ingredients for 5 meals. OK, now make it one meal. What would you bring?
Believe it or not, this game has actually played out in my real life. I mean, technically I wasn’t trapped on an island, or in any remotely life-threatening situation, but I was in the midst of 4 months abroad in Salzburg, Austria, living off of sausage, pretzels, beer and goulash. All good stuff for a few weeks, but by the time my parents were planning a trip out to visit me during month 3, I was desperate for some comfort food to remind me of home sweet home. Luckily for me, my mom generously offered to bring me the ingredients for one meal of my choosing. And when push came to shove, I knew exactly what I wanted. Canned refried beans, pickled jalapenos and Tostitos chips and salsa. Nothing says home to me like my mom’s patented homemade nachos. They were a staple on nights when my dad was out of town, and there were few things my brother and I loved more. Because really, what’s not to love about chips, beans, cheese, tomatoes, onions and jalapenos broiled to perfection and topped with sour cream, and maybe even guacamole if we were really lucky. My mom’s trick was the refried beans, which we would painstakingly spread on each and every chip before topping them with all the other goodies.
So in honor of mother’s day, I thought I’d share our recipe for the pivotal ingredient in my mom’s nachos. Although the canned version of refried beans suited my family just fine for years, there’s no denying that the homemade version is far superior. And since everything else about these nachos is easy as can be, I think whipping up the beans is a pretty simple addition to this family classic.
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup white onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups cooked pinto beans (we’ve been using ones that I cooked myself, but canned would work fine – just rinse and drain them, and use less salt, as noted below)
- 3 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp salt (if using canned beans, start with 1/2 tsp salt and add more to taste)
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/4 cup milk, water or broth, plus more as needed (I used coconut milk one time, and chicken broth another)
- Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft, but not browned.
- Stir in the beans, then add all the spices (cumin, paprika, salt, chili powder, pepper). Combine well.
- Add the 1/4 cup of your liquid. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low and cook, stirring every few minutes, for 15 minutes. If the mixture starts to look really dry at any point, add a little more liquid.
- Use the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to smush up the beans. Add more liquid as needed. The final consitency and bean smushiness (yeah, that’s a word) is really up to you.
- Serve warm on tortillas, in tacos, on nachos, as a side dish, or straight from the pot with spoon 🙂
Makes about 4 cups of refried beans.
To make the nachos, spread beans on chips, top with veggies, cheese and/or meat of your liking and bake at 425 degrees until cheese is melted. Then broil 2-3 minutes for ultimate crispness. Serve with cold toppings such as sour cream, salsa and guacamole.