Sunday, May 8, 2011

What's the Point?

SE Black Bean Burger
Black bean burger

Because we can.

A recent Weekend Cook and Tell topic on Serious Eats challenged us to create a beefless burger.

Having never met a black bean dish we liked, Bug and I have always scoffed at black bean burgers, often asking, "What's the point?"

About a month ago, a sample of MorningStar Farm's chipotle black bean burger at Costco changed our minds. Obviously, it didn't taste like a juicy, smoky chargrilled hamburger. In a salty, smoky grilled bean-grain patty sort of way, it tasted better. [Easily?] Impressed, we hurried home to search online for a palatable black bean burger recipe.

A week later, we were at Au Bon Pain (ABP) reviewing the sandwich board -- something I rarely do, opting usually to create my own sandwich (if you're curious, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, roasted red pepper hummus, and sometimes fresh mozzarella on multigrain bread).

I had not realized ABP served black bean burgers. How long have they had them? Bug thought I wasn't well when I ordered one to split between the two of us.

Their burger is constructed with guacamole, feta, romaine lettuce, and tomatoes on feta flatbread baked with sunflower seeds, flaxseed, and other grains. While fairly high in carbohydrates, the fiber accounts for nearly 20% (14/76 g, whole sandwich). One glaring drawback is the amount of sodium (930 mg)!

Having read several recipes online, I had an idea of what I wanted in my burger. Everything we make is an experimental-kitchen sink affair. The following ingredients list is an approximation.

Yes, that is my disclaimer that some measurements may not be precise to the nearest . They are very good approximations, however. No, this does not mean I am trying to hold back ingredients on my sekrit recipe in order to make millions on my creation (scroll up and look at it!).

Burger that won't kill you because it doesn't have any meat
Servings: 4+

1 15 oz can black beans (unsalted), rinsed and drained (approx. 1-1/2 c cooked beans)
3 Tbsp yogurt
1/3 c bread crumbs
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
black pepper, crushed
pinch of salt
1 15 oz can black beans (unsalted), rinsed and drained
1 c fresh mushrooms, finely diced
parsley, chopped
1 lime, juiced

1. Mash black beans by hand or pulse in a food processor.
2. Add yogurt, bread crumbs, cumin, cayenne, oregano, paprika, garlic, pepper, and salt. Use more cayenne if you would wish to have a spicier burger or less/omit if you do not. Mix/Puree until ingredients are combined evenly.
3. Transfer pureed bean mixture to a bowl if a food processor was used. Add whole black beans, mushrooms, and parsley.
4. Add enough lime juice until the contents are cohesive enough to form patties.
5. Cook patties in a grill pan or frying pan, approximately 10 minutes per patty.

We enjoyed the cumin, smoked paprika, and cayenne flavors. Bug likened it to a Mexican version of a Sloppy Joe (Jose?).

What we will do in the future:
1. Allow some time for the patties to firm up in the refrigerator. The consistency was a challenge when the patties were at room temperature upon cooking.

2. Reduce the thickness of the patties by one-half to reduce the cooking time and create a firmer, more consistent texture throughout.

3. Cook red bell peppers, mushrooms, and parsley prior to combining ingredients. I wanted red bell peppers in the burger, but forgot to buy them. Cooking them first would theoretically help provide more control over the integrity of the patty by controlling the amount of moisture released.

4. Experiment with harissa in the burger mixture. Use avocados and chipotle or sriracha-mayonnaise

A question that nags at me, at what point does a burger become a slice of [meat]loaf?

- Cassaendra

0 deep thoughts:

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