Black beans are a Mexican staple, whether served soupy or refried. Here we’ll make both, starting with dried beans for a taste and texture that transcends canned. (Use oil instead of lard to make these vegetarian! It's less traditional, but still delicious.)
In a large skillet over medium heat, add lard. When lard has melted and begun to shimmer, add onions; adjust heat to medium-low, stir, and cook until translucent and soft, 6-8 minutes. Add 2 cups of Soupy Black Beans, well drained, to the skillet. Use a potato masher to mast beans directly in the skillet, while alternately stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture becomes a thick, creamy, relatively uniform paste. (Alternatively, you can use a blender.) When the refried beans have reached the appropriate consistency, taste and season with salt as necessary. Makes about 2 cups. (Use Refied Black Beans in Chef Camara's Torta Ahogada recipe.)
Soupy Black Beans
Add water to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; then add beans, epazote, and garlic. Season with salt, stir, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover, and cook at a gentle simmer until beans are soft but not falling apart, about 40–60 minutes (checking after 30 minutes).
Check beans for doneness by removing one from the pan and squeezing; it should be easily mashable. Taste and season with salt as necessary. Serve as a side dish, garnished with oregano. Makes about 4 cups.