A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 07, 2006
Frijoles Refritos (refried beans)

Frijoles refritos (or “refried beans” in English) are a staple of Tex-Mex cuisine. The beans are cooked and mashed in hot oil.


(Oxford English Dictionary)
refry, v.
trans. To fry again. So refried ppl. a., esp. in refried beans (U.S.) [Sp. frijoles refritos], a dish consisting of pinto beans boiled and fried in advance and refried when required; also fig.
1957 House Beautiful Sept. 126/2 Main course is a barbecue, Yucatan fashion, accompanied by refried beans.
1960 N.Y. Times Mag. 1 May 72/1 The sales of such canned items as tortillas, refried beans and green chilies..have shown marked increases in recent months.

The Tex-Mex Cookbook
by Robb Walsh
New York, NY: Broadway Books
2004
Pg. 3:
FRIJOLES REFRITOS
Frijoles refritos, cooked beans mashed in hot oil, is the most common preparation in Tex-Mex cooking. Though generally translated as “refried beans,” some argue “well-fried beans” is a more accurate translation.

Frijoles means “beans” in Spanish. The most common variety on Tex-Mex tables is the pinto bean. Pinto means “painted” in Spanish, a reference to their dappled coloring. The modern pinto bean is a hybrid related to the anasazi bean cultivated by early Native Americans.

8 June 1900, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 2?
Frijoles Refritos
(Menu item—ed.)

17 May 1903, Fort Worth (TX) Telegram, section 6, pg. 8:
Now, the frijoles must first be boiled until done thoroughly; then they are fried in hot lard until perfectly dry, and are called refritos.

9 December 1920, Nashua (Iowa) Reporter, pg. 19?
“I trust you rested well last night, Mother Jenks, and that no evil dreams were born of your midnight repast of frijoles refritos, marmelade, and arf-an’-arf.”

12 December 1937, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Food and Drink in Mexico,” section 5, pg. 4:
A steaming dish of frijoles, beans, will now appear from the kitchen, these either cooked into a soft consistency or refritos, double fried.

6 October 1945, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg. 3 ad:
Taco, Tostado, Enchilada,
Mexican Rice, Frijoles
Refritos, and En Salada
MEXICO CAFE

27 February 1948, Austin (TX) Statesman, pg. 5 ad:
TASTY DELICIOUS
REFRIED BEANS
AND TAMALES
(...)
Del’s Hot Tamales and Tortillas
2313 So. Congress

13 November 1948, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Texas Newspaperman Writes of Texas Life,” section 2, pg. 2:
With the utmost care for detail and the sureness of one who knows his subject, Donoghue describes quarter-horse races, the rodeo, Spanish missions, the pride of a cowboy riding a fine pony, the taste of tequila and refried beans, and the engaging informality of a small town.

30 January 1950, Dallas (TX) Morning News, part II, pg. 1:
FRIJOLES REFRITOS (FRIED BEANS)
Mash up 1/2 pound cooked beans and combine them with 1/2 cup liquid from the beans. Get 4 tablespoons pork lard sizzling hot and fry the beans until they are so thick they can be formed into a roll.

23 June 1950, Oakland (CA) Tribune, pg. 24A:
For frijoles refritos, drain off the liquid and mash beans. Crumble in the cheese and saute in sufficient oil until the mixture can be rolled.

25 January 1951, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg. 26 ad:
REFRIED BEANS
Refried beans are a popular Mexican Border dish. A wholesome staple that will become popular in your home, too. Quickly and easily prepared. Mash GEBHARDT’S Chili Beans with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Shape into thin patties. Fry in hot fat until thoroughly heated and all fat has been absorbed. GEBHARDT’S Chili Beans are not over-seasoned, and are high in food value. Refried beans will lend balance to almost any meal as a distinctively different side dish.

1 November 1962, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Frijoles and Frijoles Refritos Popular Fare,” section 5, pg. 12:
FRIJOLES AND FRIJOLES REFRITOS
2 cups red or pinto beans
6 cups water
Salt to taste, about 2 teaspoons
1/2 cup lard of bacon drippings

Wash beans, place in a heavy sauce pot or Dutch oven. Add the water. Bring to boiling point rapidly, boil two minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and allow to stand one hour. Or soak in measured amount of water overnight. To cook, add 2 tablespoons butter or drippings to beans and soaking water to keep down foaming, add 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boiling point, reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook until very tender, about two hours, and until liquid is of gravy consistency. Stir occasionally but gently to keep from sticking to the pot.

At this stage you have “Frijoles de la Olla” or “Boiled Beans from the Pot”—Mighty good eating as is. Good served in soup plates with Chile con Carne atop or stirred in, or topped with little green onions cut in rings and diced or thin-sliced Monterey Jack or other mild cheese.

But on to the Fried Beans. There are two ways to proceed. One is to put half the lard or bacon drippings (which do give a good flavor) in a heavy frying pan, and melt it. Add a portion of the hot cooked beans, mashing them with a wooden spoon or fork, adding some of the bean liquor. Continue until all the beans are used. Or all the beans may be mashed using a potato masher, put in the skilet and then fried, starting with half the fat, adding more when fat seems to be absorbed. Turn the beans carefully, cooking until the desired thickness.

Watch so that the beans do not burn but a bit of browning improves the taste and flavor in some folk’s opinion. Serve hot. Note: these beans may be frozen, mighty handy to have on hand in the freezer.

FRIJOLES REFRITOS:
Heat fat in heavy frying pan, add mashed and fried beans. Cook until beans are heated through, lifting and turning with a pancake turner. Cubed cheese of melting quality may be added to hot beans. Let cheese melt. Serve at once. You may like to serve the plain Refried Beans with lightly salted thick dairy-sour cream or with sour cream to which has been added chipped drained green chiles. Or serve with Chile con Carne.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, December 07, 2006 • Permalink