Last night my friend Katie—whose day job is managing editor at Bon Appétit—had several SUPERB moments on Hell’s Kitchen. She totally stole the show in the opening challenge! But I’ve gotta tell you, she’s been stealing the show all week at our house. On Saturday night, she brought over some frijoles refritos for my sister’s birthday bbq that we’ve been obsessing over all week, which have just the right hit of spiciness to them—such a diversion from the usual bland frijoles. We’ve had them in breakfast burritos, lunch burritos, dinner burritos…with cheese, with Spanish rice, tabasco. I kind of can’t believe that refried beans can be THIS GOOD. Katie riffed on an Emeril recipe, but like any great cook made the recipe her own with some genius detours.
In addition to the bay leaf, she added a broken-in half chile de arbol, a sprig of oregano, a few whole peppercorns, and a smashed garlic clove to the water when she cooked the beans. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of bacon drippings or lard, which is A LOT. Katie notes:
A word about the bacon fat. I doubled the bean recipe and then some (I used 5 cups dried beans rather than 2, and multiplied everything accordingly-ish), but I still ended up using less than 3/4 cup bacon fat. I started with about 3/4 cup (they sell it at Larchmont Larder), but it was just so much when it melted; it seemed like I’d be deep-frying the onions and garlic rather than sauteeing them, so I spooned off some of the fat.