For those that don’t know me, let’s be straight. I like my burgers made from beef. For as long as I can remember, I’ve approached the idea of the veggie burger with a certain amount of skepticism. “How,” I’ve wondered, “could a veggie burger ever replace the real thing?”
And for a while there it seemed like I was right. I ordered dry, cardboard-tasting veggie burgers at restaurants and always left craving a Big Mac. “Veggie burgers,” I would say with confidence, “just don’t do it for me.”
But about a year ago, I decided to whip up a batch of veggie burgers for a class. The focus of the class was on vegetarian substitutions and I couldn’t ignore my nemesis any longer.
So I did some research, had several failed culinary attempts (edible, but not worth sharing), and then stumbled on this creation. In my view, it’s a veggie burger done right. It’s made of black beans. Japanese breadcrumbs, called Panko, keep the burger from being too dense and help create that ideal burger texture. An egg works as a binder to hold everything together and cilantro, garlic, and Monterey Jack cheese provide flavor. The final and most important addition is one chipotle en adobo.
For those that aren’t familiar with chipotle en adobo, familiarize yourself with it. It’s a favorite secret ingredient of mine. The chipotle pepper is a dried and then smoked jalapeño. You can find it canned en adobo (a spicy sauce made from vinegar and chilies) in the Mexican aisle of your local supermarket.
A little chipotle goes a long way and adding one minced chipotle pepper en adobo to your burgers gives them a great smoky flavor that mimics that of the grill. For those that worry about heat, the spice of the chipotle pepper is more subdued than that of a fresh jalapeño. However, if you abhor the picante, simply use a little of the adobo sauce instead of the chipotle pepper. The sauce will give you the same benefits as the minced chipotle, but without as much of a kick.
I find it easiest to cook these black beans burgers in the oven, but you can certainly cook them on the grill as well. Easily made in advance, these would be great to pull out at your next cook-out. In terms of condiments, the usual accoutrements like ketchup, tomatoes, onions, and mustard work great. However, if I’m feeling spicy, I’ve been known to heat things up with a little salsa and some avocado slices for a Mexican twist.
Finally, I would be remiss if it I didn’t tell you to rinse your beans before using them. Canned beans, while convenient, pack a sodium wallop. A quick rinse before using will cut the level of sodium by almost half. In short, it’s worth the trouble. Enjoy!
Black Bean Burgers – Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes 4 burgers
Want to see how to make these burgers? Click here to see my cooking demonstration on the Charlotte Today Show.
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, divided
½ cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 chipotle chili in adobo, minced
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
¼ teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg
4 hamburger buns
Serve with: avocado slices, tomato slices, sliced red onions, salsa, and/or traditional hamburger condiments (mustard, ketchup)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the black beans in a food processor. Process until the mixture is mostly smooth with a few lumps. Add the black beans to a large bowl and stir in the cilantro, cheese, minced chipotle, panko, salt, garlic, and the egg. If the burger is too sticky, add a little more panko.
Divide the mixture into four portions and shape each portion into a ½-inch thick patty. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray and place the hamburger patties on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip the burgers over and continue baking for another 10 minutes.
Serve the black bean burgers hot with preferred condiments.