Instant Pot Frijoles con Chorizo (adapted from Buen Provecho, New Jersey, 1995)

Instant Pot Frijoles con Chorizo is a hearty take on refried beans suitable for a Mexican family feast.  This recipes comes to me by way of Buen Provecho: 500 Years of Hispanic Cuisine, a 1995 community cookbook compiled by the AT&T Hispanic Employees Association.  It’s a huge step up from your run-of-the-mill canned refritos, and adding the Instant Pot to the equation makes it possible on a weeknight.   The recipe is elegant in its simplicity, a subtle riff on homemade refried beans.   Traditional preparations involve cooking beans in fat – usually melted lard.  The beans are fried and mashed simultaneously resulting in a rich and starchy mess of a dish.  It’s not pretty, but it’s delicious.   Instant Pot Frijoles con Chorizo substitutes Mexican chorizo for the lard, serving both as a source of fat and seasoning.  No need to add salt or spices;  the chorizo does all the work for you.

The original recipe doesn’t involve the Instant Pot, which wasn’t yet invented when the cookbook was compiled.   If you don’t own an Instant Pot never fear:  this dish is still for you.  You’ll just need to plan ahead.  Using conventional methods good beans require an overnight soak and 2-3 hours of simmering.  It’s not difficult and doesn’t require a lot of active time, but it does require having a brain that won’t forget to soak the beans the night before.  The older I get the less I can rely on my brain in this way, and am grateful to have an Instant Pot as a crutch.   If I forget to soak my beans my Instant Pot can still churn out the plump, slightly overcooked pintos I need for a good pan of refried beans.

When making Instant Pot Frijoles con Chorizo it’s important to use the right type of chorizo.  Spanish chorizo is a cured meat similar to a salami or pepperoni.  It is sold in various forms, shapes and sizes, either as a full sausage or pre-sliced.  And it won’t work at all for this recipe.   Instant Pot Frijoles con Chorizo is made with Mexican chorizo, which is a crumbly, spicy ground meat sausage.  It’s usually sold raw without a casing, and works in practice like heavily seasoned, very fatty ground beef.   And for this recipe you’re looking for the cheapest Mexican chorizo you can find.  My local grocers sell Cacique brand chorizo, in beef and pork varieties in a 9 oz tube for about two bucks.  They’re best described as “meat paste” and sweat spicy, bright red oil when cooked.  When mashed with the beans they fade effortlessly into the background, adding plenty of flavor but without recognizable chunks of meat.

Instant Pot Frijoles con Chorizo can be used as a substitute for plain Jane refritos in pretty much any situation, but they may overpower a milder, blander main course.  They pair particularly well with grilled meats or fajitas and, it should go without saying, rice.  Enjoy!

Instant Pot Frijoles con Chorizo

Instant Pot Frijoles con Chorizo (adapted from Buen Provecho, New Jersey, 1995)

  • Preparation: 15 min
  • Cooking: 1 h 15 min
  • Ready in: 1 h 30 min
  • For: 6 side dish servings
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Instant Pot Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients except chorizo to your Instant Pot. Cook on High Pressure for 40 minutes and allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 10 minutes. The beans should be soft and plump with cloudy cooking water.

Conventional Instructions

  1. Soak beans in an excess of water overnight. Drain and refresh water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add garlic and onion, then cover and simmer for 2-3 hours until beans are soft and cooking water is cloudy. (The beans will be slightly overcooked)
  2. In a large cast iron skillet, cook Mexican chorizo over medium-high heat until brown and crumbly and the pan is well-oiled with the chorizo fat.
  3. Transfer the cooked beans to the skillet using a slotted spoon. After every couple of scoops mash the beans and chorizo together then stir to combine. It's okay to bring a bit of the cooking water with you. Repeat until all of the cooked beans are used.
  4. Reduce temperature and simmer, uncovered, until beans reach desired texture. Top with crumbled cotija cheese.

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