A recipe: UK-style refried beans and homemade corn tortillas

A recipe: UK-style refried beans and homemade corn tortillas

Sunday night was Mexican night here at Casa Bristolia: refried beans with a British twist of cooked greens and Lancashire cheese, plus corn tortillas. A perfect meal for a lazy Sunday – dead easy but needs some advance prep.

There’s no need to buy readymade tortillas. There are loads of quick recipes for basic flatbread, flour tortillas. The corn version doesn’t even need rolling out and is gluten free. You just need to track down masa harina – a lime-soaked corn flour. You’ll never go back…

Corn tortillas – makes 12

250g masa harina
¼ teaspoon salt
330ml warm water

Use your hands to combine the ingredients in a bowl and form into a ball. Leave to stand for 5 minutes or so before briefly kneading then dividing into 12 equal balls.
Get two roughly 30cm square pieces of baking paper and sandwich one of the balls between the sheets. Get something large and sturdy with a flat base – like a wooden chopping board – and press it down hard on top of the baking paper, flattening the dough. Press repeatedly – you want it 2-3 millimetres thick so don’t be shy. Peel it off the paper and repeat with the remaining 11.

To cook, heat a dry frying pan until very hot. Place a tortilla (or more if your pan’s big enough) flat onto the smoking pan and heat until brown spots start to on the underside. Flip it over and cook the other side similarly. Perhaps a minute each side. Keep warm and soft by wrapping tightly in a clean tea towel. Repeat until they’re all cooked.

Refried beans and toppings

200g dried black beans
3 large bay leaves
Green tops of 1 large or 2 small leeks, whole
1 tsp epazote (if you have it)
4 garlic cloves, whole

3 tbsps sunflower oil
White parts of 1 large or 2 small leeks, sliced
5 red chillies, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp epazote (or dried thyme/oregano/mixed herbs)
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lime
500g spinach or chard, thick stalks and leaves separated and roughly chopped
A big handful of coriander, chopped
1 tsp, heaped, brown sugar

100g Lancashire cheese, grated
A small handful of crisp lettuce, shredded
Small pot of soured cream/crème fraiche mixed with chopped spring onions, parsley and lime juice left over from the beans

Soak the beans in plenty of water overnight.
Next day, drain, rinse and boil in fresh water with the bay leaves, leek tops, garlic and epazote.
Simmer until the beans are soft – this may take up to two hours. Drain, remove the bay, leek and garlic. Set aside.

In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp of the oil and stir fry the spinach leaves until wilted. When cooled slightly, squeeze out most of the water and set aside.
In the same pan, heat the remaining oil and gently stir fry the leek whites, any chard stalks, garlic and chilli until soft. Then add the dried herbs and spices and stir in for 1 minute.
Add the cooked beans, orange juice and 1 tbsp lime juice. Cook until the juice is absorbed and the beans start to break down. A masher may help.
Add the spinach leaves, sugar, plenty of salt and pepper and chopped coriander.
Serve alongside bowls with the tortillas, lettuce, cheese and soured cream mix. And tequilla – lush!

RESEARCH QUESTION: What British twists do you like with far-flung food?

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