TJ’s Refried Black Beans “With Jalapeños”

“High in Fiber and a Good Source of Iron”

Says so right on the front label and all true. This is a very healthy thing for you to eat. And since a can costs just 99 cents, it’s very economical too. Now if you are not familiar with “Refried Beans” there are a few things you should know. One is in Spanish “frijoles refritos” is slightly misleading in that while it literally can be interpreted as “re-fried beans” they are not “fried” twice, they are “cooked twice”, first the beans are boiled, then they are mashed/fried with some kind of fat. Authentic Mexican FRIJOLES REFRITO are either pinto, black, or other beans that have been cooked till very tender, and then mashed till they are a smooth paste. The mixture is cooked with onions and garlic and spices in some oil or fat (traditionally manteca (lard) is used but more ‘modern, healthy’ versions may use olive oil). Manteca does give the beans the best flavor though!  Cooked until a thick paste, Refritos generally is eaten with corn tortillas in one form or another, or simply put on the plate as a side. Of course the famous combination of Corn and Beans eaten together create a complex protein that is equal to meat protein, and are eaten in many places all over the world to sustain a population. In Mexico this is very true. This classic combination is both a high quality protein at a relatively low cost compared to meat/chicken/etc, and is a staple eaten daily by MILLIONS of people around the world.

However Trader Joe’s Refried Black Beans are a much simplified version of this classic bean dish. The ingredients list says simply : Black beans, water, sea salt, spice, jalapeños. So actually since there is no fat of any kind listed, in truth these are not really “refritos” at all! You could eat them this way just out of the can, but I find them just so-so that way, I think of them as a time-saver over making my own beans (soaking overnight, etc) and mashing them. Tasting these you may say as I did, “what where’s the jalapeño’s?” Are there really Jalapeño peppers are in this?? They seem non-existant taste wise so I assume the amount is miniscule.

When you open up up the can, be aware this beans don’t look too appetizing till prepared (frankly one could say it looks like dog food) but it will look fine after you heat them up and hopefully gussy them up as I suggest .

Anyway think of this can as a starting point to something. If you invest a mere 5 minutes to improve these* to make them tastier and more authentic, you will be rewarded with something twice as good as the way they taste right out of the can, I promise you. Here’s what I suggest you do with these mashed black beans – Smash or chop up a fat clove of garlic and toss it in a non-stick pan, over medium heat with a nice slug of good Olive Oil (I used TJ’s Spanish EVOO). Add the bean paste from the can (carefully! it may spit in the hot oil)  Perhaps add some diced fresh or pickled jalapeños or other chile peppers ‘to taste’. A great thing to add would be one small can of TJ’s Roasted Green Chiles, chopped up. A little diced onion sauteed for 5 minutes in the oil before the beans go in couldn’t hurt and will add much flavor to your Frijoles Refritos. Now add some spices: oregano, cumin if you like it, a dash of red pepper flakes plus a good sprinkling of black pepper. Taste for salt. Cook the the beans, pushing down with a wooden spoon, mixing into the oil and every now and then stirring and making sure they don’t burn as they cook. Use a low flame. Cook the mixture for about 5-10 minutes until the paste softens up, moves freely (If too thick, add a tiny pinch of water) until the Frijoles look smooth and smell wonderful. If you like spicy, a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce would go well added now. There….much improved over just opening this can.

Are you so Lazy that reading the above makes you say all that sounds like way too much work? Wow you are a lazy bum! OK then if you do nothing else, at a minimum when you heat the beans up just add some olive oil and lots of black pepper and some hot sauce to the pan.

Eat your Frijoles Refritos with tortillas, tostadas…. Use as fillings in burritos. Add salsa, cheese, tomato, greens. Refritos are also great served as a side with a sprinkle of cheese, maybe some mexican style rice, and possibly some Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo.

If you’ve never had these before, try them, or their cousin Trader Joe’s Pinto Refried Beans with Salsa.  Those are also quite good. They are very tasty when jazzed up a little, so filling, healthy and economical it’s not even funny. Your heart and cholesterol will thank you, especially since you made them with olive oil and not lard (thought authentic manteca does taste best, sorry!)  For a dollar you can easily always keep a few cans of these in the pantry.






9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. andeww
    Jan 29, 2013 @ 21:49:49

    amazing stuff! i used to put them on my toast and let my dog eat them. but eventually just started dipping oreos in it straight out of the can.



  2. Nick
    Apr 03, 2013 @ 20:09:02

    Dude. thanks for the tips!



  3. Wade Henderson
    Dec 14, 2014 @ 23:05:22

    Actually, for those of us who want to be heart healthy, it is better to not add any oil. Not even olive oil. Olive oil is better than lard or other fats, but it is still 100% fat… with a large slug of saturated fat in every spoonful.
    The rest of your preparation sounds good.



  4. Concerned Vegan
    Apr 21, 2018 @ 16:05:45

    Do you know for sure they don’t use fat or oil? Saying “prepared black beans” on the label implies something was done to them that isn’t listed. I am searching for an answer on this, which is how I found your post.



  5. Trackback: Trader Joe’s CORN TORTILLAS | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves!)
  6. Trackback: TJ’s CHIPOTLE BLACK BEAN DIP | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves, a few rants)
  7. Trackback: TJ’s GUAJILLO SALSA | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves, a few rants)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: