Sunday, December 16, 2007

Blizzard bean burgers

This morning, we awoke to the sounds of the second Nor'easter to hit Boston this winter. I had checked the forecast, and I knew it was coming, so last night we went to the grocery store and picked up the essentials needed to weather a major storm -- wine, soy ice cream, Valrhona chocolate... (what other essentials are there?)

Luckily, I also absent-mindedly threw a can of black beans in the cart. They became the basis for tonight's lovely meal.

Because my boyfriend is a carnivore, I often end up making a meal for one - but one that can be cooked alongside his. He was feeling like eating a hamburger, and while this sounded good, I had no frozen veggie burgers in the fridge. So, I thought I'd try my hand at making a homemade black bean burger, inspired by a few decent versions I've tried at Washington Square Tavern and The Publick House in Brookline, and the Centre Street Cafe in Jamaica Plain.

Again, I began with what I had in the fridge and pantry. This is what I used:

1 can black beans, well drained
1/4 cup oats
1/4 wheat flour
1 egg's equivalent of culinary egg replacer
1 stick celery
1 half white onion
1 clove garlic
1 cup broccoli, lightly cooked/steamed
1 cup peas, lightly cooked/steamed
1 tbs olive oil

--Note: from here, spice servings are approximate: I added to taste. Not all ingredients are required (although cumin forms the flavor foundation for this burger, so I added it generously). I like to add balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and red wine or red wine vinegar to add nuance to marinades and savory recipes; I often add Worcestershire sauce to store-bought veggie burgers to add a more "meaty" flavor.

1 tbs cumin (I love cumin)
1 tbs fresh-ground black pepper
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce

First, I put a small saucepan on with a bit of oil on medium heat.
I drained the black beans and placed them in a bowl, smashing them a bit with a potato masher.
I washed and coarsely chopped the celery, garlic, and onion, then placed the mix in a food processor.
Once the mix was finely ground, I put it in the saucepan to saute for approx. 5 min.
While this mix was cooking, I placed the broccoli in the food processor, and added this to the black beans.
I then added the oats, spices, and peas to the black beans. (In the future I'll mix all dry ingredients together before adding them to the moist ingredients).
I then added the sauteed mix to the black bean mix.
I added a little olive oil, then added the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, and began to mix it all together with a rubber spatula.
I realized the mix was a bit moist, so then I added the wheat flour and the egg replacer, which served to bind the mix (you can also add a real egg if you're so inclined, but as I don't often eat eggs I wanted to test the recipe using all-vegan ingredients).
Then, I mixed it all together by hand; this will form 4 small, McDonald's 1/4 pounder size patties or 3 hefty patties. I fired up my cast-iron grill pan on my stove (GREAT product from Crate & Barrel - creates a BBQ-like texture in the winter) and grilled them lightly for about 4 min. on both sides.
I garnished my burger with some tomato and dijon mayonaise; I also think this would go wonderfully with some salsa and sour cream on top.

As a first attempt at homemade black bean burgers, this came off wonderfully. I only wish I had some carrots to add for a little color and sweetness; otherwise, this adding-whatever-I-have-on-hand approach seems to work well. I'd like to share this recipe with my baby bro, who just moved into his first apartment; a can of black beans, even the organic kind, is about $0.99; the rest can be made up of leftovers and on-hand spices, and the result is a healthy, protein- and nutrient-rich "burger" that makes a wonderfully hearty meal for cold days.

Now, if I only I could put all that energy from my super-burger toward putting up my Christmas tree...

But perhaps I'll just eat my soy ice cream with a little melted Valrhona chocolate on top instead.

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