Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Burgers for Meatless Monday?!?

While Meatless Monday this week is being sacrificed in the name of St. Valentine, I have a bit of a back log, so last week's Meatless Monday adventure works for me!

Once again, Yum Sugar has proven to be super helpful in finding creative meals for Meatless Monday, fit even for the cold winter evenings we have been having.  Being a huge fan of "real-deal" meaty burgers, I generally avoid imitations - they're just NOT real burgers!  In an effort to stay true to my reasons behind Meatless Monday, I decided it was about time to see what these "burgers" were all about and decided on this Black Bean Burger, which was adapted from Gourmet.  I went for this recipe because it seemed to have a juicy, hearty look to it, and I wanted something with a good bite (also, I'm a sucker for a good recipe picture.)

Black Bean Burger
The Necessities...

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 soft hamburger buns
sour cream, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, for serving

Upon reading the reviews of this dish I learned that the key to having the ingredients stick together was to make sure the beans were washed and dried thoroughly - otherwise, you are left with a crumbled mess.  I must say, this was really helpful because I think I would have just washed and added the beans.  Having read up on this, I washed the beans and let them sit for awhile then I took a couple of paper towels and patted them dry.  While I did not compare dry to wet beans, my burgers stuck together, so something worked!  Another note about the beans: while I bought BLACK beans (the cans were clearly labeled as such - Nick even verified!), what came out definitely looked like red beans. I am not sure how this happened but I still went for it.

"Black" Beans
While the beans were drying, I chopped up the onion, cilantro, and jalapeno.  I first allowed the onion to saute in olive oil for about 5 minutes, and then added the jalapeno and allowed the mixture to cook for another couple of minutes.  Finally, I added a bit of the already prepared minced garlic and stirred and sauteed for another 2 minutes. 

In a larger mixing bowl, I combined the bread crumbs, spices, and cilantro.  While the recipe did not indicate either way, I used Panko breadcrumbs because the only regular ones I had on hand were Italian seasoned, which wouldn't have been the right flavor for this dish.  This dish had a surprising number of spices, which I figured would provide a lot of much-needed flavor.  Obviously I was worried about what these "burgers" would taste like!   

Dry Ingredients
I added the dried beans to the dry ingredients and also added the sauteed onions, jalapenos and garlic to the bowl.
All the components
The next step was fun: mashing it all together.  While the recipe said to use your hands, I tried using a pastry blender, but realized that it was not really helping.  It turns out my hands really were the best tool!  I mashed the components together until it formed more of paste, then broke it up into 4 equal parts that resulted in 1/2 inch thick patties. 

"Burger" Patties
In a saute pan with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil I cooked the burgers - about 3 minutes per side.  The recipe said to cook for a total of 5 minutes or until the outsides were crisp and a light brown, but I will tell you it was really hard to tell!  I ended up cooking them for an extra couple of minutes.  Also, these things sucked up the oil really quickly - be careful not to burn them.

Almost a "Burger"
I bought some bakery-style burger buns and toasted them in the oven while the burgers were cooking, trying to give the authentic burger feel.  For toppings I used salsa, guacamole and sour cream - or, I should say, Nick used the sour cream as that falls into my "ewww" category.

The Black Bean Burger
I was pretty impressed with the results.  In my opinion, this is in no way a replacement for my beloved beef burgers, but definitely a great dish - even with suspect "black" beans.  The burger had loads of flavor and stuck together really well.  It did satisfy that burger urge while really skimping on the calories.  I should have gone for a smaller bun as these were a little overwhelming, but still good.  The toppings made everything come together and left me completely satisfied.  This is an easy weeknight dish with components you generally have on hand, and one that I would totally recommend.

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