While planning a Cinco de Mayo menu, I received a request to recreate the red sauce Taco Bell serves in their bean burritos. The request for the sauce itself seemed fairly tame, and it gave me the perfect opportunity to try two new DIY recipes – homemade tortillas and homemade refried beans.
The tortillas pictured in my post may look slightly more brown than a traditional flour tortilla as I used 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 3 cups all-purpose flour in place of 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour. When making tortillas at home, I can not stress enough the importance of rolling the tortillas very thin. I was hesitant to do so at first, and I ended up with tortillas much less pliable than desired (they were just plain hard). A good tip is to use an 8-inch salad plate as a guide to trim the rolled-out circles.
I cobbled together homemade refried beans from various posts on the topic. I took a shortcut and used canned beans instead of dried beans, but you will save money if you buy a bag of dried beans instead of canned beans. Be sure to reserve some of the water in which you cook your dried beans to use as broth later in the recipe. For reference, one cup of dry beans equals approximately three cups of cooked beans.
My attempt to recreate Taco Bell’s red sauce, according to my source, did not disappoint. I myself have not eaten a Taco Bell bean burrito in years, and I did not do my due diligence and buy one of their bean burritos to taste test the red sauce compared to my homemade red sauce. All I can say with certainty is putting these three homemade dishes together made for a pretty good bean burrito.
The process of making tortillas and refried beans at home was fairly simple and well worth the gains in flavor. Cooking from scratch is rarely the path of least resistance, but I do enjoy the sense of accomplishment I get when I serve a fully homemade meal. Enjoy!
- For the Tortillas
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup shortening
- For the Refried Beans
- 2 cups cooked pinto beans
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons broth, or more as needed
- For the Red Sauce
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tablespoons minced onions
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1½ teaspoons cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- To make the tortillas, pour the salt into the lukewarm water, stir to dissolve, and set aside.
- Blend the flour and the shortening in a food processor until the mixture resembles a fine meal. (If a food processor is not available, simply use a fork to cut the shortening into the flour.)
- Place both the flour and the water mixtures in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and mix until the liquid is incorporated and the dough is smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. (If a stand mixer is not available, stir the liquid into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon, then knead by hand.)
- Divide the dough into 12 equally-sized pieces (each just slightly larger than a golf ball).
- Roll each ball of dough into a thin 8-inch round.
- Cook each round in a heavy pan over medium-high heat, flipping once, until each side is slightly puffed and golden, about 3 to 5 minutes per tortilla.
- To make the refried beans, sauté the beans and onion with the butter or olive oil, garlic, brown sugar, cumin, paprika, salt, chili powder, and red pepper flakes for about 10 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender, regular blender, or fork to blend/mash the bean mixture to the desired consistency. Add broth to adjust the texture.
- To make the red sauce, place all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and stir well.
- Simmer over low heat for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.