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Refried Horizons: Taking on Reddit’s OKC Recipe for Southside Refried Beans

1:59 PM EST on December 7, 2023

When it comes to Reddit, the only time I log on is for music news, bizarre recipes, and, of course, accidental nip-slips, so I was all ears and all tastebuds when Patrick sent me a recipe from Reddit’s r/okc forum for “making refried beans like they make in OKC," thinking it could be a fun and patient culinary adventure.

In the past forty-five years as a half-Latino man, I have seen just about every style and variation of the humble bean but, for me, the pinto bean serves my ultimate purpose: it turns into the refried bean, and it is mejor.

Growing up in a poor family, we usually had refried beans on the table for almost every meal, but now that I don’t have that luxury of having a large Mexican family to feed and cook for me, I truly long for them, dreaming about them each day with sticky sheets and no frijoles.

As a part-time food critic and a full-time food eater, the refried beans in the southside part of OKC have always been a treasure of my culinary life, so when this Reddit recipe said, “This is how the Mexican ladies on the southside make them…”, I knew this was the real thing.

Printed off the website, after getting my Great Value ingredients—specifically a big-ass bag of pinto beans—like the recipe said, I had to let them soak in a pot of water for around twenty-four hours. Tick-tock, tick-tock…

After a full day of waiting for the beans to tenderize, I was ready to start refrying…for the most part.

In my pot of pinto beans, I tossed in a sliced white onion, seeded jalapenos, and the ever-faithful ham hock…well, two ham hocks, because Sean really enjoys them and, you know, it’s the holidays.

The beans drowned in the murky brew for around six hours on a low flame as the mixture boiled and bubbled in a simmering pot. After letting it cool for an hour or so, just as I think it’s time to refry, here is where the fine print comes in: I had to wait another day to let the beans set. Tick-tock, tick-tock…

So, twenty-four hours later—again—I got my big cast-iron skillet out and prepped a roll of spicy Mexican chorizo. With that flying in the pan, I gently stirred in yesterday’s beans.

As the grease of the chorizo made the beans sizzle, the pulverizing and pounding began.

With a jackhammer’s appeal, after about a minute or so, there they were: refried beans or, even better, Southside Refries, ese.

It was magical…or at least approaching the magic.

Using my limp tortilla as an implement of dispersal, it was a glorious moment as I realized this is the true flavor I had been searching for many of these years. And while it wouldn’t be as healthy as I like—the chorizo is very fatty and the frying is pretty disarming—but, I have to say these are the best refried beans of all time.

Thanks for the recipe, Reddit.

¡Viva refritos!

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Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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