Why You Should Start Adding Milk To Your Refried Beans

While there are mistakes everyone makes when it comes to beans, refried beans are a versatile dish, working as a side, as an entree when paired with rice, or as a filling for tacos or burritos. And whether they are made from black beans, pinto beans, or kidney beans, they add a warm, comforting, and sometimes spicy element to any meal. It's a bit of a misnomer to call them refried, though as the beans for this dish are only fried once. The name is a translation of the Spanish phrase "frijoles refritos," which actually means beans well fried.

This dish has been traced back to northern Mexico where it got its start about a century ago. Since then, it can be found around the world, and it's a staple on the menus of many Mexican restaurants. Refried beans are also an easy dish for a home cook to handle, and there's one unusual trick to make your beans more creamy. Believe it or not, the addition of milk to the beans has a wonderful effect on the dish's consistency.

Milk makes refried beans creamy

Most recipes for refried beans are pretty straightforward. In terms of ingredients, it's usually beans, onions, garlic, chiles (or chili powder to add color and flavor), and some type of fat. Lard or vegetable oil would work well for this dish, but few recipes ever mention milk, which is a missed opportunity. This liquid can help make your beans smoother and taste richer.

Once the beans are tender, it's time to fry them. Garlic is cooked in the oil and then the beans are added. The beans are mashed, and this is where the milk comes in. Some cooks like the texture when you mash the beans by hand with a fork or a potato masher. However, you can use a food processor or blender if you prefer. As you are mashing, add a small amount of milk –- a half cup or so -– to the beans and stir it in. This addition makes the bean mixture looser and softer. Think about when you add milk or cream to mashed potatoes.

If you're looking for a speedy shortcut to luscious refried beans, milk can also help out here. Heat up the contents of a can of refried beans and add milk to the mixture. This will make the refried beans have a more supple finish. You can also put a splash of milk in when reheating refried beans, too, for a creamy kick.