Beans in their own broth: Frijoles de olla
This is the classic bean dish which is brought to the table in a large bowl after the main course has been eaten, for those who would like to help themselves to more food. It is the basis for innumerable other dishes, such as refried beans, ranch-style beans, and bean soups. In the north and central parts of the country, pinto beans are popular, whereas black beans are more commonly served in the south. Vegetable oil may be used in place of lard, but the beans will not have the same authentic flavor.
- 2 cups dried pinto beans, sorted and washed, soaked overnight and drained
- 1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons lard
- 2 sprigs epazote (optional)
- 4 quarts water
- salt to taste
Place the beans in a large cazuela - clay pot - or stockpot with the onion, garlic, lard, epazote and water. Do not add salt until the beans have finished cooking. Cover and cook for 4 hours or until tender. Alternatively, beans may be cooked in a pressure cooker - olla express - as is frequently done nowadays in Mexico, following manufacturer's instructions.
When the beans are done, remove about 1 cup of them and mash or puree them with some of their liquid. Add the mashed beans back to the pot, and continue cooking a few more minutes, until the mashed beans have thickened the bean broth a bit. Add salt to taste.
Serve the beans in the clay pot or an attractive, heat-proof bowl. Pass a platter of garnishes - chopped onions, crumbled cheese, chopped cilantro - so that each diner can add them to taste.