I am not a good Mexican cook. I grew up about 2000 miles north of border, in a land where "taco hotdish" was considered Mexican food. I remember, vividly, learning about that strange and wonderful substance "picante sauce" (jarred Pace at the time), and eating an entire jar of it with my sister with plain Dorito chips. It's been a long road, and I'm still learning, but I am still a beginner when it comes to this wonderful cuisine.
However, I recently had a triumph that I attribute directly to a canned product (regular posters may have also noticed recently my rave reviews of another canned product -- Muir Glen Pizza Sauce -- as being the best pizza sauce I've ever had, including many homemade tries. Well, this is another example where canned products came through to make a really good meal, where one wasn't expecting it.)
I was making the refried bean tostada recipe from the Cook's Illustrated "Quick Recipe" cookbook. My husband likes tostadas (he grew up in Santa Cruz, CA and actually knows the difference between good and bad Mexican food, unlike Minnesota-born me), and I didn't want to use refried beans from a can. However, the Quick Recipe cookbook had a recipe to cook refried black or red beans using canned beans. I realize this is cheating -- I've made my own from dried beans many times before, and then mashed them an cooked them down with lard like in traditional recipes. My beans were always so-so.
This particular night I felt like making refried beans from canned beans, mashed and then cooked with onions, olive oil (not lard this time), jalapeno, etc, was not cheating TOO terribly much, and they couldn't be that much worse than my own very mediocre traditionally-made beans. I whipped up this recipe, fried up some tortillas, and set out the various toppings, not suspecting anything fantastic to happen.
We were just sitting down to dinner when two friends dropped by to pick up some baseball tickets. These happen to be our friends of which the husband is from Honduras, and he knows his refried beans. These are ood friends of ours, and my husband generously invited them to stay to our casual dinner. There was way more than enough food (I was making dinner and leftovers for lunches hence the quantity), and they hadn't yet eaten, and they accepted. As we sat down to a friendly repast, I had an inward worry about our Honduran friend finding my attempts at beans unpalatable, or, even, inedible!
He loved them. I loved them. Everyone at the table repeatedly pronounced the beans absolutly delicious, with a full, deep, rich flavor, and just the right texture. This from canned beans, pureed in the Cuisinart, and cooked for about 15 minutes on the stove. My Honduran friend looked at me with new eyes, and congratulated me on beans as good as he'd ever tasted.
It was the S&W beans in a can, I tell you. They are a great product. Also, that CI recipe is a pretty good one, and can't be beat for ease and quick preparation. You get fine refried beans from it, even without lard.
I know this brand has been complimented on this board, and I'm pleased to say that I found it to be very good too.