½cupbean cooking liquid or brothor more, see recipe note #1
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat fat or oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir until softened and onion is nearly translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in cumin, smoked paprika and crushed red pepper. Add beans and bean cooking liquid or stock. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook and stir until beans are heated through and begin to break down, about 5 minutes.
Transfer bean mixture to food processor and pulse until beans reach desired consistency and return to pan. Or mash beans in the pan with potato masher or back of a spoon to your desired consistency. Serve.
To reach your desired consistency, feel free to add more broth or bean cooking liquid - I add as much as 1 cup as I like my refried beans very creamy. Also note that the beans will thicken as they cool. Adjust seasoning as needed.
To cook beans with the salt soak method: soak dry beans overnight in a ratio of 1 pound of dry beans to 6 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of fine sea salt. The next day, give them a quick rinse and cover them by 1-inch in a slow cooker. Then cook on low until tender, creamy and flavorful.