Refried beans should not be eaten cold.
There, I’ve said it. I don’t usually put my foot down about food preferences, but cold refried beans are about as appealing as a cold hamburger. This is why I make 7-layer dip starting with a layer of hot refried beans. Shredded cheese is added directly to the top of the beans so it melts from the heat of the beans. Then the layers of tomato, avocado, olives, and chilies, onions (mostly room temp) are added. The only cold part of the dip is the topping of sour cream (or crema Mexicana). Served this way and the taste delightfully mimics tostadas or homemade nachos, but in an easy-to-serve dip form.
By the way, depending on what you have on hand, your 7-layer dip may have 8 or 9 layers, or 6. The basics are refried beans, grated cheese, avocados (or guacamole), chilies (or salsa), sour cream, and olives. Improvise with more or fewer toppings to your own taste.
7 Layer Bean Dip Recipe
- 2 cups of refried beans, either from one 15-ounce can or homemade
- 1 teaspoon (or more) of bacon fat (or 1 strip of bacon, cooked and minced) optional
- 1 teaspoon of chipotle powder, Tabasco chipotle sauce, or adobo sauce, more to taste (or plain chili powder to taste)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped green Anaheim chiles (canned) OR a Tbsp of chopped pickled jalapenos (more to taste)
- 1 avocado, peeled and chopped
- 1 hot house tomato, cut in half horizontally, seeds and juice gently squeezed out and discarded, chopped
- 1/3 cup of sour cream, or if you can get it Crema Mexicana (Mexican sour cream)
- 1/2 small can of sliced ripe black olives
1 Heat the refried beans in a medium sauté pan or cast iron skillet. Stir in enough water to get a creamy, easily dip-able consistency, about 1/4 of a cup. The taste of refried beans is greatly enhanced by bacon fat; we'll add a teaspoon to canned beans or a tablespoon or more to taste if we are making the beans from scratch. If you don't have bacon fat, you can cook up a strip of bacon, chop it up fine and add that to the beans. If you are trying to avoid pork, note that most canned refried beans are made with added lard, so check the ingredients. You can use olive oil instead, to help the consistency of the beans.
Mix in the chipotle chili powder (or Tabasco, or adobo, or regular chili powder) and cumin to taste. Note that the avocados and the sour cream will cool down the spiciness of the beans considerably, so you can afford to be a bit more spicy than you might think. Stir in salt to taste, depending on how salted your refried beans are to begin with, and depending on how salty the tortilla chips are that you are serving with the dip.
2 Once the beans are hot and bubbly, spread them over the bottom of a warmed serving dish. Immediately add the shredded cheese so that the heat from the beans helps melt the cheese. (The cheese doesn't need to be completely melted, but even if it is just a little, it will help the dip stay on the chip.)
3 Layer on the chopped green chilies, chopped avocado, chopped tomato. Spoon on the sour cream (or crema Mexicana, crema fresca, or even cream fraiche). Top with sliced green onions and olives.
Serve immediately with tortilla chips.