A Machacadora Is Key For Deliciously Smooth Refried Beans

Refried beans have a distinct and delicious texture that is both smooth, lumpy, and ultra-creamy. Whether you eat them out of the can or at your favorite Mexican food restaurant, you might have wondered how refried beans achieve such a unique consistency. The answer lies in the humble wooden machacadora. A relative of the stone pestle, a machacadora is a long wooden tool with a thin handle and a larger cylindrical flat head.

It remains a beloved old-school kitchen tool for refried bean lovers in Mexico despite the invention of food processors and blenders. ¨Machacar¨ is the Spanish verb that translates as both crush and pound. It's also a fun onomatopoeia for the mechanism by which the machacadora breaks a pot of whole beans down into the varied texture of refried beans. While you can use the pulse mode of a food processor or blender to partially mash or puree beans, a classic recipe for refried beans requires you to mash the beans as they're frying. The machacadora helps make refried beans a one-pot recipe, and it's an easy tool to clean.

Once you've poured beans and a portion of their broth into a frying pan with diced onions and your desired seasonings, the machacadora mashes the contents of the frying pan together. The hot oil and stove-top fire effectively release the fragrance of the aromatics, while the machacadora incorporates the flavors and textures of the ingredients into a cohesive, bubbling mass.

Tips for homemade refried beans and alternate uses for a machacadora

It's easy enough to heat up a can of refried beans in a pan, but scratch-made refried beans are hard to beat. You could even take a shortcut by using canned whole beans that have been drained and rinsed. If you use dried beans, you don't have to soak them; you can use a pot or instant pot to boil them. Adding a bay leaf, quartered onion, and fresh cilantro to the pot will enhance the flavor of the beans and create a delicious broth.

The inimitable richness of scratch-made refried beans lies in the freshness of the aromatics, herbs, and spices you fry in the oil or animal fat. These fragrant ingredients also bolster the heartiness and texture of the beans. Traditionally, refried beans are made with lard, but you can use bacon drippings for an even more savory taste. Olive oil is also an earthy, savory, and vegetarian-friendly frying oil for your aromatics.

Even if you aren't making beans, machacadoras can mash other ingredients, from avocados to garlic. Machacadoras aren't readily available in most kitchen appliance stores, but you can find them for sale online. In the absence of wooden machacadoras, potato mashers make a great substitute. The best type of potato mashers to simulate the wooden machacadora are the metal or heat-safe plastic slotted circular mashers. In a pinch, you can use the back of a wooden spoon, but this will take more time and muscle.