Friday, July 2, 2010

Recipe Friday: Black Bean Burgers

Dinner outside tonight; an overturned watering bucket becomes impromptu dinner table.
Black bean burgers, tomato rice, cut up tomatillo, lots of hot sauce.

This recipe as written will make up a very large amount of burgers. As such, it is great for gatherings and parties. They also freeze exceptionally well. So if you are looking for a way to not have to heat up the house or turn on the grill every time you're hungry this summer, this recipe is great. It contains lots of good for you foods including carrots, garlic and grains in addition to the beans. The burgers can be eaten on buns or just as they are with whatever sides you enjoy. More often than not, we do not have buns or bread in the house so we do the latter. This recipe is also exceptionally flexible to personal taste as the spices and spice amounts used can be altered or substituted ad infinitum.

Feel free to halve or quarter the recipe as written as it really does make a lot.

As for next week's Recipe Friday edition, would you rather read about fresh strawberry pie or making your own rice and almond milks?

Black Bean Burgers


1 100 oz can black beans (this is the really big can that usually weighs somewhere around 6 lbs)

4 medium-large carrots, finely chopped

4 onions, finely chopped

4 bell peppers (I used all green, but use any color you like or substitute some of the bell peppers for fresh chilis or jalapeños), finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

16 eggs
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup corn meal
1 package saltine crackers, crushed
2-4 cups flour of choice, perhaps more (amount depends upon humidity, how much liquid is in the mixture to begin with, temperature, phase of moon, etc.) (I'm kidding about that phase of the moon part, but really there are a LOT of variables involved in determining how much flour is needed)

Seasonings of choice
Example A: 2 Tbs dried parsley, 5 tsp chili seasoning (the no salt kind), 2 tsp ground cumin

cilantro, Mexican oregano and/or hot sauce would also work splendidly with this kind of seasoning mix
Example B: 3 Tbs curry seasoning, 1 tsp ground fenugreek seed, 1 tsp ground paprika (either hot or sweet, though I can attest smoked paprika is way better than any other kind for this application)

Example C: 2-4 Tbs your favorite steak seasoning

you could also use your favorite Mrs. Dash or other similar spice mixture in the same amounts

Fresh herbs also make fantastic additions. I have use fresh basil, cilantro and parsley successfully before, however, I imagine any fresh herbs you like the taste of would work splendidly. I also think I would like to try adding fennel (greens and bulb) some time in the future when I can get my hands on some good-looking fennel.


1. Wash and chop all vegetables.

I used a food processor to chop everything as it saved a lot of time hand chopping. You could also use a box grater if you don't have a food processor available.

Here's a trick for processing bell peppers. Cut the tops off just below where the stem joins the fruit as shown below.

That will leave you with something that looks like this:

Stick your fingers into the lobes, grab the seed body in the center and give it a twist/pull to remove, taking out the rest of the pithy part separating the lobes afterward if needed.

Et voilà
! Now you can cut it up however needed without worry about the seeds and pith inside. Or you can leave it as is and stuff with yummy grain and/or meat mixtures for making stuffed peppers and the tops can be placed back on them as is to keep everything nice and moist inside while baking. Be sure to cut the extra meat off the stem part in order to use it as well if you're not using them as baking containers.

This is about the size you're going for on the chopped veggie bits. A little larger than rice grains; maybe about lentil sized pieces. Anything larger will be obvious in your finished burgers and make the texture nonuniform.

Now all the veggies are prepared and ready to go. You could also put them in a colander as you process them as this would help drain away excess liquids. I did not do this and as a result had to add a lot of flour at the end. The reason I didn't do this is that I had my beans draining in my one and only colander.

2. Drain and rinse beans. I forgot to measure how many cups of beans are in a 100 oz can so you could just cook and use your own dried beans. Oops.

3. Mash beans. You can do this by hand with a potato masher or fork. I prefer to get out the Kitchen Aid instead, especially when making this much.

4. Add all other ingredients with the exception of spices, we'll get to those in a bit.
salt and pepper

oats and cornmeal
I would appreciate it if you could imagine photos of crackers and veggies being added as I forgot to take them. If your mixture is really runny you can add more than 1 package crackers; I only had one package available though.

Another tip: squish the saltine package from both ends in order to crush them. this keeps all the little crumbs self-contained and makes it easier to get an even texture in the crushed crackers.

Here is what it should all look like at this point. Taste it now and adjust salt and pepper accordingly, before eggs are added.

5. Add eggs and mix in flour to get a mold-able mixture. At this point you will have too much mixture to all fit in a Kitchen Aid bowl. Put part of the mixture into the bowl in order to incorporate eggs, dump that into the rest of the bean mix and stir thoroughly to incorporate.

adding eggs

6. Separate into batches for seasoning. I find it much easier to mix the spices and seasoning thoroughly when doing so with smaller batches. This also allows you to try out a variety of spice styles and can help you decide later if you really like a certain seasoning style or not (and prevent you from having a freezer full of bean burgers that aren't spiced in a way you really enjoy).
adding spices

7. Preheat oven to 375F or fire up the grill.

8. Spray or oil your baking surface to prevent sticking. Because these have no fat added to them, they will stick like the dickens, even if you are using a silicone baking mat as shown below. So be very liberal with the spray oil if you don't have a silicone mat.

9. Form your burgers. You can either form them by hand or, especially if your mixture is still a bit sticky, spoon the requisite amount of mixture for burgers the size you want directly onto the baking surface.
(Yes, this mat is a different one than pictured above. I started with this one but forgot to use the spray oil on it and ruined this batch. They were still tasty, just not burgers. So remember the spray oil!)

10. Bake at 375F for 10 minutes, remove from oven and flip, return to oven for another 10 minutes.
fully cooked bean burgers

11. Enjoy your delicious bean burgers!

A couple tips for preserving as they tend to freeze into one solid block if you just put them in a freezer bag or container
1. Thoroughly cool first! Putting them in the fridge overnight ensures all steam is done escaping and helps prevent block-o-bean-burger-ness.
2. Freeze individually on a cookie sheet and place in a container after frozen so they can be removed individually.
3. Freeze an amount you/your family will consume at one time in a bag and thaw altogether.

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