The strength of this recipe is in the process, I think. Using a slow cooker is a great time (and pots/pans/tools) saver.
I pre-soaked the beans overnight in the crock pot (turned off), then drained them the next morning.
After the pre-soak, I drained the beans, then added the other ingredients as listed. I only used enough water, however, to cover the beans with about 1/2 inch or so of water above them. I turned the crock on high for about four-and-a-half hours - essentially until I could taste that the beans were soft and the onion cooked.
Instead of using a potato masher (which I started to use, but it was taking too long), I used my hand blender, which worked perfectly.
Overall, I found the beans to be a bit bland, but a little hot sauce on top picked it right up. Before blending, I tasted a sample of the beans atop some jasmine rice prior, and they were fine (with hot sauce).
Then I blended the remaining beans in the crock pot and they worked up perfectly. This will be my favorite process for refried beans in the future. Easy peasy.
But I do think that they're a tad bland for my taste. I'm going to experiment with seasoning in the future - maybe by adding a package of taco seasoning or something. Not sure yet, but it needs a bit of kick for my taste. Otherwise, it would be real good served with something else, like in a tortilla or burrito with cheese. I'm going to serve it to my husband tonight atop rice and with some chicken cubed on top.
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The strength of this recipe is in the process, I think. Using a slow cooker is a great time...