Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bean There, Done That

I’ve tried black bean burger recipes before. The results were usually just fine in the flavor department, but sadly lacking where texture is concerned. Actually, they tended to resemble greasy black bean puddles rather than burgers, so I gave up for quite some time.

Later, I came across the concept of the bean (or lentil) croquette, sort of an elongated meatball (meatless, of course). Since they’re smaller, I thought they may not fall apart as the burger shapes do when I attempt to flip them. I then found an old recipe (from Eating Well magazine) for a black bean croquette, complete with southwest flavors. It even had instructions for baking rather than frying, so even if these fell apart, at least they wouldn’t be drowning in oil.

Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone and just try the recipe. I swapped out the tomatoes, pretty pathetic in the markets this time of year, with some bell pepper and green onion. They’re not exactly seasonal either, but they’re at least consistent through most of the year. I also consulted at least one other recipe for ideas on flavoring and thickening.

I decided on a combination of brown rice and bread crumbs to help the croquettes to hold together. Since I had some leftover cornbread in the freezer, I turned it into crumbs and pressed it into service. I also used those crumbs to coat the croquettes before baking. They add a nice crunch to the outside and a sweet flavor to the inside that I think is an improvement over plain breadcrumbs.

These might not go well on a bun, but I often find bean burgers on a bun kind of starchy and heavy anyway. What they do need, though, is a dipping sauce, and I’ve included the recipe of the one I put together. By a stroke of luck, the dipping sauce recipe only made a bit more than I needed for dipping. This just makes me look like I know what I’m doing. You know, bean…ahem…been there, done that.

Black Bean and Corn Croquettes
These are a good use of leftover cornbread and rice. You could also shape them into smaller balls to serve as an appetizer.

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
½ cup finely chopped bell pepper, any color
1 ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups cornbread crumbs, divided
½ cup cooked brown rice, cooled
½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
a few splashes hot pepper sauce, to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 cups home cooked or canned black beans (drained and rinsed if canned)

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Heat canola oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and ¼ teaspoon salt. Sautee until pepper just begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the green onions and garlic. Cook 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine ½ cup cornbread crumbs, rice, cheese, cumin, chili powder, cilantro, hot pepper sauce, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and cooked peppers, onions and garlic. Process until well combined and beginning to form large clumps.

3. Add the beans and corn. Pulse until well-combined, but some beans and corn are still distinguishable in the mixture.

4. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or oil or line it with a silicone baking mat. Place the remaining 1 cup cornbread crumbs in a bowl or on a plate. Scoop up about ¼ cup of the bean mixture and use your hands to form into a log-shaped croquette. Dredge the croquette in the cornbread crumbs, pressing slightly to make the crumbs stick. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture. You should get about 12 croquettes.

5. Bake at 425 fro 25 minutes or until the crumb coating is golden brown and the croquettes are firm enough to move without falling apart. Serve with Cilantro Cream Dipping Sauce (see recipe below).

Makes about 4 servings.

Cilantro Cream Dipping Sauce

1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
2 green onions, finely chopped

1. Combine all ingredients and stir well to combine. Chill until ready to serve.

Serve with Black Bean and Corn Croquettes.

1 comment:

  1. If anything, this *under*states how well the croquette (had to look up the spelling, I've just been calling them bean-thingees in my head) held together. I've always found purchased bean "burgers" so heavily processed that they could not be replicated outside of an industrial setting.

    This also brings up a pet peeve I have about meatless cooking. How "vegitarian" can something be if it is built to taste just like the meat dish it is trying to mimic? Let it go for its own flavor! This recipe does a very good of doing that by going for an excellent southwestern flavor and not "just like meat.