Beans star in this Mexican-style dish

THE WASHINGTON POSTFebruary 2, 2014 

Once you know that enchilada means something that’s coated in chilies and that frijoles are beans, it’s pretty easy to guess what enfrijoladas are. Unlike enchiladas, though, they’re typically topped, not filled.

The key to this dish is to make the beans from scratch. Trust me on this. Yes, canned beans are better than many other vegetables. But when the beans are showcased like this, the difference between warmed-from-a-can and cooked-from-dried is the difference between good and scrape-the-plate.

That’s because the precious cooking liquid that results from simmering dried beans to tenderness is the stock on which you base this sauce. After that, it comes together as easily.


4 servings

Other beans may be substituted as well; black or pinto beans are the most traditional, but white beans, chickpeas and even black-eyed peas are good choices.

Other topping possibilities include pickled onions, chopped tomatoes, salsa, thinly sliced cabbage, toasted pumpkin seeds and nuts.

Make ahead: The beans ideally need to soak for at least 6 hours or overnight. The cooked beans can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months. Defrost before cooking and mashing. The hard-cooked eggs can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

- 8 ounces dried black beans (may substitute pinto or other beans; see headnote)

- 2 medium white onions

- 6 cloves garlic

- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed

- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

- 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder

- 2 teaspoons ground cumin

- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional), plus more as needed

- Eight 6-inch corn tortillas

- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

- Flesh of 1 avocado, cubed

- 4 hard-cooked eggs, cut into wedges or chopped

Rinse the beans, picking through them to remove any debris. Pour them into a bowl and add enough water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Soak for at least 6 hours and preferably overnight.

(Alternatively, do a quick soak: Bring the beans and water to a boil, then turn off the heat and let them sit for 1 hour.)

Drain and rinse the beans. Place them in a medium pot set over medium heat. Add enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Cut one of the onions into 1-inch chunks. Peel and smash one of the garlic cloves; add that onion and garlic to the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat low enough so the liquid is barely bubbling.

Cover and cook the beans until four or five that you sample are creamy and tender, which could take as little as 45 minutes and as long as 2 hours or even longer, depending on the variety and age of the beans.

Stir in the salt; cook for 10 or 20 minutes, until well absorbed. Taste, and add salt as needed. Remove from the heat.

Finely chop the remaining onion and the remaining 5 garlic cloves. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the onion to use as a topping.

Pour the oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the chopped onion (not including the 2 tablespoons) and garlic to the skillet; cook until the onion is translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle in the ancho chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper, if using; stir to incorporate. The spices should sizzle and become fragrant after a few seconds; stir in the beans and their liquid.

Once the liquid in the skillet starts to bubble at the edges, use a fork or potato masher to mash the beans, onion chunks and garlic. Taste, and add salt and/or cayenne pepper as needed. Cook until the mixture has slightly thickened into a fairly loose sauce (the texture of very thick soup), about 20 minutes.

Use tongs or a large fork to submerge the tortillas one at a time in the sauce, turning them to coat and soften. Take them out and quickly fold each softened, coated tortilla in half and then fold again, forming a kind of layered wedge.

Arrange two tortillas on each plate. Top with the reserved chopped onion, feta, avocado, egg and maybe a spoonful or two of any leftover sauce. Serve right away.

Nutrition per serving: 570 calories, 25 g protein, 67 g carbohydrates, 24 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 230 mg cholesterol, 840 mg sodium, 21 g dietary fiber, 12 g sugar

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