Most store-bought lard (the traditional fat in refried beans) is nearly flavorless, unlike chicken fat, which is delicious and readily available.
- 3 ounces slab bacon, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1 dried chile de árbol, seeds removed, crushed, or ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1½ cups dried pinto beans, soaked overnight
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- ⅓ cup schmaltz (chicken fat)
- 1 teaspoon (or more) apple cider vinegar
Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat, turning often, until browned and lightly crisped, 8–10 minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 8–10 minutes. Add chile de árbol and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beans and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more water if needed to keep beans just covered, until beans are tender and beginning to fall apart, 1½–2 hours. Season with salt and pepper and let sit 30 minutes to absorb seasoning.
Heat schmaltz in a pot or skillet over medium. Add beans and their cooking liquid and cook, mashing with a potato masher, until beans are nearly smooth and very thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and more vinegar, if desired. Thin with water if needed to loosen just before serving.
Do Ahead: Beans can be cooked and/or refried 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.