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Elsa Marie Collins' Enfrijoladas


Chef notes

What is it about a meal that can change your mood, that can make you smile and be nostalgic for your childhood?

Enfrijoladas is a dish that I love from my childhood because it combines all of my favorite things about Mexican cuisine: tortillas, Oaxaca cheese and frijoles. It smells and tastes like home to me. Whether it was an afternoon treat or a standalone meal, I would get home from school and ask for an “enfrijolada, por favor.” And when I was old enough, it was a simple dish that I could make for myself.

I prepare my enfrijoladas thanks to the recipe by Bricia Lopez, an acclaimed chef and restaurateur from Oaxaca. The queso oaxaqueño gives it that just right taste. And as my girls help me cook it and then eat it, I know they’ll be passing this dish on to their children.


Black beans
  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 5 cups water, plus more for soaking beans
  • 1 small white onion, peeled
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 dried avocado leaves or 1/8 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 sprig epazote, rinsed and roughly chopped (about 3 tablespoon) or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1 chile de árbol, stemmed and toasted
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
  • 12 (6-inch) white corn tortillas
  • fine sea salt, to taste
  • 8 ounces Oaxaca cheese or low-moisture mozzarella, torn into strands
  • 2 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
  • thinly sliced white onion and chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish


For the black beans:


Place beans in a large pot and add water to cover by at least 2 inches. Let soak at least 8 hours or up to overnight. Drain beans.


Combine drained beans, 5 cups water, onion, garlic and avocado leaves in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat.


Cover and reduce heat to medium-low, simmer, stirring occasionally until beans are tender and creamy, about 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours.


Remove from heat.


Remove and discard onion, garlic and avocado leaves.


Stir in epazote and salt.


Drain beans, reserving cooking broth.

For the enfrijoladas:


Combine the chile de árbol, 2 cups of cooked beans and 2½ cups of bean cooking broth in a blender. (Reserve remaining 4 cups beans and any remaining cooking broth for another use.) Process mixture until smooth, about 30 seconds. Set aside.


Heat 1/2 cup oil in a large skillet over medium. Fry tortillas one at a time until soft and pliable for 10 to 20 seconds per side. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Set aside.


Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add bean mixture, cook, stirring often until simmering, 4 to 5 minutes. (The consistency should be similar to heavy cream; stir in water or additional reserved cooking broth, 1/4 cup at a time, if needed to loosen.) Remove from heat and season with salt to taste.


Place one tortilla in hot bean mixture in pan, let soften about 15 seconds per side. Place tortilla on a serving plate and fold in half. Repeat process with remaining 11 tortillas, placing three folded tortillas on each of four plates.


Spoon remaining hot bean mixture evenly over tortillas (about 1/3 cup each). Sprinkle evenly with Oaxaca cheese and queso fresco. Garnish with sliced onion and chopped parsley.