Dear Melissa, These Are The Refried Beans of Your Dreams. Love, Sobby.

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For my sister, Melissa.

My weirdo sister has been taco obsessed since the early 1980’s. She is a maverick this way, ahead of any millennial trend that frankly BORES THE FUCK OUT OF US O.G. GENERATION X TACO EATERS. We are also bitter people, if you need proof re-read the last sentence.

Old Aunt Stinky Smell, as she is now known (although honestly she smells real nice), became an ethical vegetarian when she was 14 or 15. What this means is that when she had hankering for Mexican food, which was nearly every damned day, she ate a shit ton of refried beans and really greasy quesadillas filled with chihuahua cheese, in these little hole in the walls that she insisted I drive her to. I am not sure how she found out where to go since THERE WAS NO INTERNET (wrap your pie hole around that), but I dutifully drove her because I am the good child. We didn’t know that these beans also probably contained tons of lard (NO INTERNET, remember), and also in the 1980’s there was not a lot of back and forth with your server regarding what was in or what was not in the food. They did not say their names or let you know they would be taking care of you. There was no inquiry regarding food allergies and they didn’t suggest sharing 3 or 4 small plates. There was an unspoken assumption that you might have BEEN IN A RESTAURANT SOMETIME BEFORE IN YOUR LIFE AND KNEW HOW TO OPEN A MENU AND READ IT. You  would read it, then close the menu. Prompted by the magical closing of your menu, the server would reappear, you told them the order, they wrote it down, then a while later they returned with the food you requested. It was a much simpler transaction back then, with a lot less chat.

We often tried to recreate these beans at home, which involved a can of refried beans, water and a microwave. It never really worked. You also cannot make a hole-in-the-wall taqueria style quesadilla using corn tortillas, cheddar cheese and a microwave. We felt very sad when we tried this. If you try it this way at home, you’ll be very sad too so don’t do it.

30+ years later, I have discovered that it takes two things to make really good refried beans: A $1.29 package of Goya Mayo Coba Beans (sometimes called canary beans) and a pressure cooker.


The above is a Mayo Coba/canary bean. A small, thin-skinned, pale yellow friend that when cooked, melts into velvety deliciousness. This bean comes to us courtesy of Peru (“Thanks, Peru!” –although I will take a moment here to say “No Thanks, Peru!” to your horrible pan flutes), and because it is texturally superior to the pinto bean, no lard is necessary. Who has the macros for lard? I sure don’t. If you have macros for lard, by all means eat lard. Otherwise follow the recipe below. When I eat them, I am always magically reminded of my little sister, dingy taquerias and the 1980’s. You may be reminded of something else. Or you may just be in the present eating your beans mindfully but if you are going to do that pipe down about it and keep it to yourself- this is not a Yoga studio.

Creamy Refried Beans à la Melissa

  • Servings: 7 or 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Macros/100 Gram Serving: 120 Calories | 7 P | 1 F| 21 C . Fiber= 8 grams

Leave out the bacon for a vegan/vegetarian version. (Macros would be 6 P | 1 F |21 C for the baconless version). You will need a pressure cooker and a potato masher. I don’t use any cumin or any spices except salt and pepper but if you like go ahead and add after you have sautéed the vegetables.


  • 6 ml olive oil
  • 50 grams onion, finely chopped
  • 100 grams raw carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (get a nice firm one) finely chopped (de-vein and de-seed if you cannot handle the !Caliente! )
  • 150 grams dried Mayo Coba beans, sometimes called canary beans. Don’t break my damned heart and use a pinto bean for this.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 sliced of pre-cooked bacon, chopped (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Water


1.Pick through the canary beans and remove any stones, broken beans and general detritus you might find in there. If you are unsure whether or not something qualifies as detritus, ask yourself “Does this look like a bean?”. If the answer is no, it’s detritus, toss it. Cover the beans that survived your careful inspection with cold water and soak them for 30 minutes.

2.Drain the beans, pour into the pressure cooker with 1 tsp of salt, (I use the Instant Pot), cover with 2 inches of new water and cook on manual for 16 minutes. Depressurize the pot and drain the beans again. They should be about 3/4 cooked through, so a bit al dente at this stage. If they are very very hard, give it another 3-4 minutes under pressure.

3.Sauté all the rest of the ingredients in the 6 ml of olive oil. If your pressure cooker has a sauté function, do it in there. If not, a pan on the stove top. Season with salt and pepper and cook the vegetables for about 5-6 minutes.

4.Add the beans and mash them with the potato masher. Some of the veg might get mashed- that’s totes fine. Really get in there. Add this back into the pressure cooker (unless it is already in there) and add 1 -2  cups of water. This is a bit instinctive. You do not want them to be too soupy but you need enough so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

5.Close up the pressure cooker and go another 10 minutes on manual. Depressurize the pot and voilà- The beans of Aunt Stinky Smell’s dreams!

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