Where’s the Beef?!

This recipe comes from the Big Girls, Small Kitchen blog. Their blog is partially what inspired me to do this, so of course I’m going to say that their blog is awesome….but it really is! It’s so amazing to me that girls around my age are creating recipes and even making a living off of cooking! Man, to me, that is living the dream.

Anywho, this dish is called a Sweet Potato Black Bean burger. I have NO idea why this burger appealed to me so much…maybe it was because all I needed was a sweet potato, or maybe because I secretly harbor a deep inner desire to try a veggie burger? Either way, this burger is pretty easy to make, although I have to admit that I’m not totally sure I made it right. Their directions say that the burger is not supposed to be firm like a regular meat burger, but my result was almost like a patte – it was not really firm at all, but very creamy. This makes me wonder if maybe adding an egg in next time will help bind it together more, but I don’t really know the science behind cooking.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers, taken from Biggirlssmallkitchen.com

– 1 small sweet potato, cut into chunks
– 2 teaspoons olive oil
– 1/2 small onion, diced (I used a shallot, only because I wanted to get rid of it)
– 1 small rib celery, diced
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1/2 teaspoon cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon coriander (Yeah, I couldn’t find this one in the depths of our spice cabinet…I don’t even know if I’ve ever tried coriander, so I don’t think I was missing anything)
– pinch of cayenne (I added much more than a pinch, and it was GOOD)
– fresh cilantro (optional)
– 1/2 cup black beans
– 1 tablespoon flour (I am an idiot. This is probably what holds it together, yet it magically disappeared when I was actually making the burger)

I had a huge sweet potato, so I only used half – I used that half the next day to make sweet potato fries, except I cut then into rounds instead of fries and they ended up cooking much better. So yeah, I cut the potato into chunks, then boiled the chunks for ten minutes, covered. Meanwhile, I sauteed the shallot and the celery in olive oil for a few minutes, then added the garlic. Then I added the spices. The spices really gave the burger another flavor dimension…I was kind of weirded out about using the cumin, but it tasted amazing with everything else. It gave the burger a sort of smokiness, and the cayenne gave it a spicy zing.

So good.

After that, I added the black beans and a spoonful of the can liquid and cooked that for a few minutes. By that time, the potatoes were done, so I put both the potato chunks and the bean mixture into a separate bowl and mashed them with a potato masher. The recipe on the site said to use a food processor, but the one at my house is one of those REALLY tiny ones, so I just did it by hand. The only real difference was that the celery wasn’t crushed, but it added a nice crunch to the burger, so I liked it that way. Finally, I added 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and formed the mixture into two patties. The mixture was very messy, and felt like a paste or some kind of casserole. I was kind of worried about the patties staying together while they cooked, and I actually think I flipped one of them too early. Either way, the patties were pretty fragile throughout the whole cooking process, but the olive oil that coated the pan kept them from sticking and allowed me to flip them easily.

Once the finished cooking, the patties had developed a nice crust that almost made them look burnt. I put my patty on a piece of toast with lettuce on it and ate it open face with a fork. I thought it tasted really good, but it definitely was not a burger by any means; perhaps that is the consistency of most veggie burgers, though. I didn’t really like it on toast though – it kind of took away from the patty’s flavor, so next time I’ll just put it on lettuce. My sister ate the other patty. She said it was too spicy for a burger (she has very sensitive tastebuds – I did not add THAT much cayenne..), and that it was good, but the flavors didn’t really tie together well for her. I kind of agree, but then again, I have no idea if the burger turned out the way it was supposed to, and I also think that our lack of experience with meatless burgers affected the way we thought the sweet potato black bean burger would taste.

Next time, I’ll be sure to add the flour, and I’ll try it on just lettuce. I’m not exactly sure what condiments would go with this burger though…maybe I’ll try some ketchup and spicy mustard on the side.

More posts later about a nut mixture by Giada DeLaurentiis, some blondies me and my friend made, and my dad’s super awesome New Year’s black beans!

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