Refried beans aren't actually fried twice. First, they are boiled in a pot of water, then fried in a skillet. True Tex-Mex cooks will tell you to fry the beans in lard to achieve a rich flavor, but you can use vegetable oil instead. To save time, you can boil the beans the day before, then fry them just before serving.
Although freshly cooked dried beans taste best and have less sodium, you can substitute 2 15-ounce cans of pinto beans if you're pressed for time. Drain the liquid from the cans, rinse the beans well and transfer to a bowl. Add 1/2 cup hot water before mashing and proceed with the directions.
Yields 6 to 8 servings
Pick through the beans and remove any bad ones; rinse the remaining beans. In a large pot, bring the beans and the water to a boil. Reduce the heat, then simmer for 1 1/2 hours. (Add salt after 45 to 60 minutes.) Cook until the beans are soft, adding extra water if necessary.
Use a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon to mash the beans in their cooking liquid.
In a frying pan, heat the oil (or melt the lard) over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Sauté until the onion is translucent. Stir in the remaining spices, then add the mashed beans. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and being careful not to overcook the beans. (If they dry out, add more water.) Garnish with sprigs of parsley or cilantro.