You know when you have that “aha” moment? That moment when the details you’ve been obsessing over finally work themselves out in your head? This is exactly what happened with the black bean burger recipe I’ve been working on for months.
My family loves to eat anything you can wedge inside a bun; hamburgers, lamb burgers, bison burgers, pulled pork, sloppy joes…the list goes on. We’ve been making a conscious effort to eat more vegetarian food lately, so I started working with black beans.
Right off the bat, I was surprised that most of the recipes use breadcrumbs and not rice. Together, rice and beans are a complete protein, a nutritional powerhouse for vegetarians, so I needed to include it.
I also figured I could sneak in some vegetables, so I added some corn. Onions bring life to the bland beans, and an egg binds the whole thing together.
When I mixed the ingredients, the rice didn’t absorb any of the juices from the vegetables and the mix was a watery mess. The burgers never crisped up when I sautéed them, and even after cooking out all the water, they turned out crumbly and soggy. Now I understood why the other recipes favored bread crumbs – they are more absorbent and much crunchier. Mealy burger in soft bun = gross texture. Unwilling to let go of the rice completely, I compromised and added half breadcrumbs and half rice.
I am a huge fan of beans but they have major limitations in the flavor department. The good news is they absorb spices well, so I added cumin, chili powder, adobo sauce and cilantro to punch them up a bit.
I finally had a working recipe, but once they were cooked, I realized I had no idea what to put on them. The flavors were distinctively southwestern so ketchup and mustard just didn’t seem right.
This was quite a conundrum … UNTIL we had lunch at our favorite burger spot yesterday, and I ordered their chipotle beanie burger. I finally knew what mine was missing.
Their burger was much thinner than mine, so each bite was equal parts crunch and smooth velvety bean, a perfect consistency to compete with regular burgers. They topped it with pepper jack cheese and garnished it with a chipotle aioli and pickled jalapenos which added kick and tang. Bingo!
Serve them with sweet potato fries and kale chips for a healthy dinner. Cheddar cheese, salsa and guacamole are also great garnishes if you don’t want to go the spicy route.
My family thanks you, dear Lexie’s, for allowing me to move on from this recipe.
- 1 can black beans, divided in half
- ½ cup brown or white rice
- ½ medium onion, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup corn or diced red bell pepper
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon adobo sauce from a can of chiles in adobo
- ½ cup panko
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Sliced cheddar or pepper jack cheese for melting on top of the burgers
- Sliced pickled jalapenos for serving
- Buns for serving
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Cholula hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from a can of chiles in adobo
- ¼ teaspoon juice from the pickled jalapenos
- Pulse half the beans, onion, rice, and corn or pepper in the bowl of a food processor, until well blended, about 8 to 10 pulses.
- Place the remaining beans in a large mixing bowl and coarsely mash with a fork. Add the bean mixture from the food processor, egg, salt, cumin, chili powder, and the adobo sauce. Fold in the cilantro and panko, and place in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the flavors develop.
- Preheat a 12” nonstick skillet on medium high heat. While it is heating, form the mixture into 6 burgers, about ½ inch thick. I like to form some of the mix into mini burgers for the kids. When the pan is hot, add ½ cup vegetable oil and as many burgers as the pan will allow so that they’re not touching each other.
- Cook 3 to four minutes a side, until golden brown and crunchy on the outside. When you flip, add the cheese, so it will melt by the time the burgers are done.
- Remove to a paper-towel lined plate and repeat with remaining burgers as necessary.
- Mix all ingredients until well-combined. You can make this up to a day in advance, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Serve the burgers in toasted buns, topped with the chipotle aioli and pickled jalapeno slices, or salsa and guacamole.