How to have delicious red rice and refried beans always available
October 14, 2017 4:14 PM   Subscribe

I would like to have a big pot of fluffy Mexican restaurant-style red rice and (separately) refried black/pinto beans ready to go in my kitchen at all times. What is going to be the best way to make this happen?

My favorite meal of all time is a big bowl of red rice, vegetarian refried beans, fresh lettuce, shredded cheese, and guacamole. I can prep the latter three in advance with ease, but I have never been good with having the rice and beans ready to go. Usually if I make a big batch of rice it gets burned at the bottom or just funky in general, and I'm still searching for a way to make refried beans at home so I can control the salt content myself.

How should I go about doing this? Can I make the rice and beans in advance every week, or should I prepare to make them fresh every morning so they're good to go at lunch or for dinner?

Can I make red rice in a rice cooker? Should I get two instant pots? Is this what Instapots are for?

Plz advise so me and my Dream dish can live happily ever after always.
posted by Hermione Granger to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
An instant pot would make this much easier, and you only need one: you can make beans and rice on alternate days, or even every third day, depending on how well you decide they keep.

(Plenty of recipes for refried beans and arroz rojo all over the net, I do think you should try a couple of each to find a favorite.)
posted by clew at 4:49 PM on October 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Make a huge quantity of rice. Freeze the rice in containers/portions appropriate for your needs.

Make the beans. Freeze the beans in containers/portions appropriate for your needs.

I recommend freezer ziploc bags. Cool everything to room temp (or whatever temp is best) before putting it in the bag. Freeze flat. Then you can line them up on edge in your freezer and see how much beans/rice you have available. Take he bags out in the evening before you want to start eating them. Experiment with wetness/reheat methods/etc.
posted by bilabial at 5:06 PM on October 14, 2017 [10 favorites]

I have a couple of Instant Pots and love them, but you don’t need an IP to do this. It might make it easier though.... I can make 8 cups of perfect plain rice in less than 30 minutes from start to finish. But, yes, you can make red rice in a rice cooker if you have one.

Personally, I make huuuuuge batches of rice and store them in quart sized wide mouth mason jars which I vacuum seal and stick in the freezer. You can microwave them from frozen or stick in the fridge overnight to thaw, then microwave. Both ways you end up with lovely rice that is almost as good as fresh. It’s close enough for me, anyway. I find that vacuum sealing makes a difference, though if you vacuum seal in bags the rice gets mushy and sticks together in clumps.

I would imagine that once you found your favorite refried bean recipe (lots of IP ones out there), you could vacuum seal serving sizes in flat, vacuum sealed packs for easy thawing.

So I guess what I’m saying is it would be easiest to get an IP (on sale fairly often for $69- don’t pay full price), a Food Saver with an accessory attachment and a few wide mouth mason jars. Fill your freezer and enjoy deliciousness whenever you desire.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 6:17 PM on October 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

This depends on your red rice recipe, but I cook white rice in my microwave using this method and it works great.

I assume you have looked at different brands of canned refried beans to see if any meet your salt requirements? Even if they're not as tasty as your own, that could be a good backup option in a pinch. But homemade should freeze great. (Homemade rice doesn't freeze well for me for some reason, even though it seems to for everyone else.)
posted by metasarah at 6:44 PM on October 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

They make screw top food savers, in about 12 oz size. So make rice and then beans once a week, and freeze five days worth.
posted by Oyéah at 8:10 PM on October 14, 2017

LA Times beans: 1 lb beans covered generously with water. 1 tsp salt and whatever seasonings: chipotle, seaweed strip, cumin, chili powder, onion, garlic. 250 degree oven, cover, stir at 45 min then every 30 mins, add water if needed. You can fill your oven with pots or make a big batch. Bring to a boil on stove to make the process faster. No soaking required.

My rice ratios: 1 cup rice (I like basmati), sautéed in a bit of oil, cumin and chili powder added and sautéed. Add a teaspoon of better than bouillon, 1 cup water and 1/2 cup salsa. Bring to boil, turn to lowest heat, cover and cook 20 mins. Multiply as needed. Freezes well as above.

Also, try Homesick Texan for recipes.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 8:37 PM on October 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

I make refried beans at home all the time and they are fantastic even though I use canned beans. My favorite part is how I can adjust the texture and types of beans I use depending on whim and what I'm having them with. I love to combine black and pinto beans into one refried bean dish. They freeze up great - figure out a portion and put one portion in a ziplock baggy, smooth out flat, then bundle a double batch's worth of portioned bags into a larger container. They should thaw quite fast that way.

All you do is find a canned bean you like in low sodium, and drain the can, reserving the liquid. Make sure you get all the stuff out by adding a bit of extra water and swishing it around. Rinse the beans off and include the rinsing liquid in the rest of the reserved liquid.

Use a large wide flat bottomed pan, not a pot. Dice or mince (depending on the texture you want) about half an onion per can and saute it in your lipid of choice. I love to dice up bacon and start with that but since you want vegetarian I think coconut oil is fantastic in refried beans too. It's okay to let the onions brown a bit but I like the flavor better when they've just been cooked through. Smash and mince a couple cloves of garlic and toss that in with any dry spices you want. I do cumin paprika and epazote. Toast in the hot oil for a minute or so. Optionally, mince a chile and/or fresh tomato and/or mango and add that too. Put in the beans and combine with all the good stuff. You can do all of this mincing and dicing in a food processor and use things like garlic paste and spice blends to make it simpler.

Here's the trick: As the beans cook, begin to smash them in the pan with an old fashioned potato masher or the back of a strong spoon. To start aim for smashing about half of them. Then add about a quarter of your reserved bean liquid. I had qualms about this at first - I am really not a fan of uncooked bean liquid - but it is the magic that makes them refried beans. Mix it into the beans and continue smashing, adding another quarter of liquid, smashing, more liquid, etc, while everything simmers and bubbles together. When you get the texture you want, taste and add salt as needed. A lot of recipes will suggest putting a part of the beans in a food processor and whirring them up and then mixing them back with whole beans - that just makes a weird paste with whole beans floating in it and is no good. Smashing by hand and incorporating the liquid so it gets soaked back up is what makes them perfect.

If you want to drastically cut costs or are a purist, clean dried beans very well and then soak them, using the soaking liquid for the recipe. All in all it does take some time over the stove. But if you're making a big pot of rice, it should take about the same amount of time to refry your beans as it does to wait for the rice to fluff up, and they last for about a week in the fridge and ages in the freezer.
posted by Mizu at 8:45 PM on October 14, 2017 [7 favorites]

Do you have a slow cooker and immersion blender? I recently discovered slow cooker faux refried beans - I like this recipe. It's very tasty and makes the house smell amazing. A big batch makes it easy to freeze.
posted by medusa at 8:53 PM on October 14, 2017

My recipe is adapted from this post:

This recipe scales up or down pretty easy. This is enough rice for my family of 3 with plenty of leftovers.

The key to successful Mexican style red rice is toasting the rice first. Be patient and courageous.

1 cup extra long grain white rice
2 generous tbsps olive (or any mild flavored) oil
1 can Swanson 33% less sodium chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato paste in the tube
1 tbsp sazòn - I use the skinnytaste recipe, or you can buy sazòn at the grocery store.

-In a large no-stick skillet add oil and heat to med-high. Don't let it smoke, but you want it to be hot.
-Add the rice and toast to a nice golden brown.
-Push the rice to the sides of the pan and add your tomato paste and seasoning to the middle and sauté for a moment to let the flavors bloom.
-Add the chicken stock - be careful, it will sizzle. Stir until well combined.
-Bring to a soft boil and then cover the skillet and turn down to a low simmer.
-Cook for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let it steam still covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork, adjust seasoning to taste.
posted by dorkydancer at 9:38 PM on October 14, 2017 [9 favorites]

I asked about this in the past.

For the beans, essentials:
- instant pot.
- good spices: penzeys Mexican oregano
- broth: penzeys vegetable soup base
- 2 lb beans, 6 cups water, 1 T of base
- spices
- all together from dry beans, 25 minutes (depending on your bean style)
posted by gregglind at 11:41 AM on October 15, 2017

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