A Bean Burger Worth Biting Into
This post is a long time coming. For years, What's Cooking Vegetarian readers have been waiting, ever so patiently, for a reliable meatless burger recipe made from beans or grains (rather than mock meat). The requests have been piling up in my inbox, but trust me, they have not gone unheard. It's just taken me a few years to find a vegetarian burger that not only tastes great but holds together on a bun.
I hardly expected to find the holy grail in a book called "Recipe of the Week: Burgers," but sure enough, tucked among the other 51 recipes in Sally Sampson's new collection, is a killer recipe for black bean burgers.
Now this I gotta see, I mumbled to myself, as I assembled said patties in about 20 minutes. Black beans are a smart choice for a veggie burger because of their fibrous skins and starchy quality (a kidney bean might do the job equally well). For additional binding action, Sampson uses eggs and panko, Japanese-style breadcrumbs with a more heft than the finely ground stuff found on American shelves (you could get a comparable panko effect from hand-pulverizing a stale baguette in a food processor). I also like her technique of pulverizing only half of the beans, another strategy to keep the patty nice and bulky.
After shaping my patties, I chilled them in the fridge for about 15 minutes to help them set up and keep their shape for fry time. Sampson recommends a cast-iron skillet -- but if you've got a flat griddle, I think that would work, too. And get this -- she uses a dry skillet -- as in no oil added - which keeps the fat quotient down. As long as the skillet is good and hot, you'll have no problem getting a nice brown exterior, and the scallions love the heat, sweetening up a bit.
The results, may I say, are simply terrific: the patties are bursting with flavor, in a very good black bean taco kind of way, and even better, they keep their shape!
During these tough financial times, isn't it nice to know you can have burger night for under five bucks? Try 'em; you won't be disappointed.
P.S. to the beef burger hounds: I'm not saying this "burger" takes the place of meat, but it sure ain't no sissy.
Spicy Black Bean Burgers
Adapted from "Recipe of the Week: Burgers" by Sally Sampson
4 cups cooked, rinsed and drained black beans (about 2 ½ 15-ounce cans)
1/2 cup Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
4 scallions, both white and green parts, minced
3 tablespoons (a small handful) chopped basil or cilantro, or a combination
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2-2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place 2 cups of the black beans in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chunky.
Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add remaining whole black beans, plus panko, eggs, scallions, fresh herbs, garlic, cumin, oregano and red pepper flakes and mix until well combined.
Using a dough cutter, portion mixture into patties about 1 inch thick. Suggested diameter: 3 inches; otherwise, the patty will be difficult to flip when cooking. KOD extra step that's worth doing: Place patties on a plate or tray and chill for 15 minutes so they can set up.
When ready to cook, remove patties from refrigerator and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place a cast-iron skillet over high heat, without any fat; when it is hot but not smoking, add burgers to dry pan.
Cook for about four minutes on first side or until well seared and with a flipping spatula, turn onto second side and allow to cook for an additional five minutes, over medium heat.
Serve immediately with fixins': Monterey jack, cheddar or queso fresco, lettuce, fresh tomato slice, pico de gallo or jarred salsa, sour cream, avocado. Good on a soft bun or by itself.
Makes four to six burgers.
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