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Gretchen's table: Really awesome black bean burgers

May 3, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.
Roasted black beans and toasted cashews team up with chipotle chili pepper to create this really awesome veggie burger. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

If you're not a fan of veggie burgers, I can probably guess why.

Too often these plant-based patties masquerading as the cookout standard are either mushy or completely crumble the second you take a bite.

This recipe from Serious Eats will change your mind.

The secret is in the ingredients. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt solves the problem of mushy texture by partially dehydrating the burgers' protein source -- canned black beans -- in the oven. His recipe also adds chopped cashews for texture and panko breadcrumbs to help bind the patties, without making them too soft.

Sautéed onions, poblano peppers, garlic and a touch of smoky heat from chipotle chile, meanwhile, add depth to the patties without overpowering the flavor of the roasted beans.

The final tip is to cook the patties gently, over moderate heat in a skillet. You also can grill the burgers, but be sure to brush the patties with oil before placing them over the heat -- it will help them to brown more evenly, while also preventing them from sticking to the grates.

Really Awesome Black Bean Burgers

2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

1 large poblano pepper, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

3 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 1 teaspoon sauce

3/4 cup roasted cashews

1/2 cup finely crumbled feta or cotija cheese

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 large egg

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cheese for topping, such as pepper jack, cheddar, muenster, or Swiss (optional)

6 to 8 hearty hamburger buns, toasted

Condiments as desired, such as chipotle-mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, or mayonnaise

Toppings as desired, such as shredded lettuce, sliced onions, and pickles

Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread black beans in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast until beans are mostly split open and outer skins are beginning to get crunchy, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

While beans roast, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and poblano and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add chipotle chile and sauce and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

Place cashews in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chopped into pieces no larger than 1/3 -inch, about 12 short pulses. Add to bowl with onions and peppers.

When beans are slightly cooled, transfer to food processor. Add cheese. Pulse until beans are roughly chopped. Transfer to bowl with onion/pepper mixture. Add breadcrumbs, egg and mayonnaise, and season with salt and pepper. Fold together gently but thoroughly with hands. (Patty mixture can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days at this stage.)

Form bean mixture into 6 to 8 patties as wide as your burger buns. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add 4 patties and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until well browned and crisp on first side, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until second side is browned, about 5 minutes longer, adding cheese if desired.

Spread top and bottom buns with chipotle mayonnaise or other condiments. Add toppings to top or bottom bun. Place patties on bottom buns, close burgers and serve immediately.

Makes 6-8 burgers.


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