It didn’t dawn on me until Deb Perelman broke the internet with her replica of the magical Shake Shack burger that I too could make my favorite burgers at home. Once I did, I had to own up to myself and admit what I really loved in a burger. I grew up thinking that big, thick burgers were the best but as I’ve matured (like a fine cheddar), I’ve realized that a thinner burger is actually King. I like the way the soft bun, ripe juicy tomato and crisp cool lettuce leaves all come together. I don’t want the enormous, eat-it-with-a-knife, no other flavor but meat hamburgers, anymore.
So a few weeks ago I was home, giving in to my craving for burgers, with all of the ingredients at hand and while strategizing my burgers, planning their timing, thinking through how long they’d need to cook (not long) and wondering whether it was worth firing up the bbq grill in the damp London winter, another idea crossed the breakfast bar from a vegetarian house guest. “How about a black bean burger?”
What? WHAT? A black bean burger is not a burger, that’s why. It is some otherworldly concoction not made with a recipe but with black magic. (it’s there in the name). Can you really make a black bean burger? Don’t they just exist? Aren’t they mined?
But instead what I said was, “Sure! I can do that!” gave her a huge smile and gritted my teeth like a true southern hostess does.
Honesty is important and so I’m going to tell you that there are few substitutes for a juicy, fat-dripping-down-to-your-elbows, char-grilled hamburger and this is another of those not-things.
But unbelievably. Genuinely unbelievably, the end result was fantastic. I don’t even really understand how it came together. It is sort of a miracle of kitchen science. The whole thing is super easy and sticks together with ease. It cooks up paper-thin crispy on the outside, soft and hot on the inside and with tons of flavor. I served it on bap buns from Tesco (which are sort of like dinner rolls as opposed to hamburger buns).
I have to give credit here to the best hint. Ree Drummond from The Pioneer Kitchen makes these (and her post has five thousand photos detailing the process) and she grates an onion. That is honestly brilliant because the texture is so soft that onion chunks would be really off putting.
A hint for cooking them — use a really heavy bottom skillet or frying pan. Cast iron if possible. Get it nice and hot – put the flame on medium high. Add vegetable oil and then a splash of butter if you’re feeling good. Then cook tehm for aobut 4 minutes on one side and then the same on the other. The goal is to get that super crispy outside and super hot inside for absolute best results.
Last note, I was so happy with the result and with the fact that I had written down the recipe as I went that I made them again the next week. This time overconfident and a little lazy I substituted regular breadcrumbs for Panko and threw in some extra dried spices. The result wasn’t nearly as good. So I say play around with the recipe if you dare but make sure to use Panko breadcrumbs and go light on the dried coriander.
- 1 can black beans (drained but not rinsed)
- 1 can cannelli beans (drained but not rinsed)
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 egg, scrambled
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- pinch cinnamon
- 1 medium white onion, grated
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
- Vegetable oil and / or butter for frying
- Add the white beans to a large mixing bowl and mash a few times with a meat mallet or the end of a rolling pin. Then add the black beans to the same bowl and mash those with the back of a fork (the black beans will mash much more easily which is why you don't need the mallet again).
- Mix the breadcrumbs with the dry spices. Then add that mixture to the bean mixture. Add the egg and then the cilantro and grated onion. Mix well and then let sit for at least 5 minutes and up to 24-hours.
- Make patties about the same size as the buns you are using (black bean patties will not shrink like beef patties will). You can make 4-6 patties with this recipe.
- Fry over medium heat with a generous glug of olive oil or olive oil + a pat of butter. Cook for 3-5 minutes on one side and then flip and cook for the same on the other side. The outside should be brown and crispy and the burger should be hot all the way thought.
- Serve immediately with traditional burger bits!