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Nicaraguan Refried Beans

This is an easy recipe, but it does take a lot of time.

Ingredients

Uncooked black beans (about half the volume you want to end up with) - You can use any kind of beans you like or have access to (eg., try Mexican style with Pinto beans)
Garlic cloves
Onion
Oil (Recommends olive, canola or safflower oil. Nicaraguans use cottonseed oil (high cholesterol), or you can use no oil at all)
Salt to taste
Chopped fresh tomato (optional)
Lime (or lemon) juice (optional)
Additional seasonings of your choice (see below)

Directions

Clean (sort out bad beans and rocks, if any) and wash beans. Cook until soft. Can use a pressure cooker; it takes about two hours If you don't have a pressure cooker, soak the beans in cold or room temperature water overnight and then cook in a pot. As they begin to cook, add salt, if you use any, and some whole cloves of garlic (unpeeled is fine). You should end up with extra bean-water.

Prepare a large frying/saute pan or a pot. You have a choice here of refrying all the beans, or just enough for one meal (pick the size of your pan/pot accordingly).

Heat oil in the pan and add chopped onion (chopped garlic too if you forgot it when the beans were cooking or just like it a lot). Saute onions until slightly brown. (Note: if you don't use any oil, add the onions after you add beans. The onions will have a different flavor.)

Take the pan off the burner for a second, quickly add as many beans as you plan to cook and lots of bean water (stand back, it will splatter). Now comes more waiting. If you are impatient (or hungry), cook the soupy beans down once (30-45 minutes). If you want more flavor (and have the time), cook the beans down several times (keep adding bean water or regular water (cold or room temperature)). This process can take several hours. The longer you cook the beans, the sweeter they will be. The texture will be softer and smoother too, so don't do this if you like your beans to have individual personality. If you only add a little water at a time, you can stop the process on quicker notice (disadvantages: you are more likely to burn the whole panful). Stir a lot when there is little water, a little when there is a lot of water.

Zero to 10 minutes before you finish cooking, add any of the following optional ingredients: chopped tomato, fresh herbs, lime/lemon juice (about one teaspoon per large serving of beans--this adds flavor and helps cut any greasiness).

Serving. These can be a side dish or center piece dish.

Serve with rice, tortillas, potatoes/yuca (cassava root), fried eggs (if you eat them), or whatever you like. Store in fridge and reheat as often as you like.

Variations: A very common Nicaraguan dish is Gallopinto ('guy-oh-'peen-toe--named for the colors of the rooster (gallo) and pinto). To make it, add cooked rice when you add the beans to the frying pan (about 50-50 or to taste or availability). Cook down once.

Seasonings: You can use fresh dill and cilantro. You can also add hot spices or anything else you like (add at the end and taste the beans first because you may not "need" anything at all.

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