Veggie burgers have a bit of a mixed reputation. A lot of the time they pretend to be meat and I always find that they are slightly disappointing as a result. The best veggie burgers I have eaten have always presented themselves as exactly that: veggie – not “beef style” or anything like that – just “veggie”.
The most common problem faced by homemade bean burgers is that they become mushy. This is usually caused by over mashing the beans. The best way to combat this is to pack the burgers full of different vegetables with different textures. Make sure not to use a food processor as this will puree the ingredients – especially the beans – which will cause a lot more liquid to be released. I have found that the best way to mix everything together is with my hands which is a little messy but it prevents anything being mixed too aggressively. Precooking the onion and carrot will also cause some of the liquid in them to be cooked off, which again reduces the moisture content of the final mix. The flour which you add will help to bind the burger together and dry it out. Some people will also add tapioca starch or cornflour which thicken when cooked, and again these will help bind the burger and give it some texture.
When it comes to cooking fresh bean burgers, you want to avoid overcrowding your pan. If you are cooking for a lot of people the best thing to do would be to bake the burgers in the oven and then take them out a few at a time to crisp up the outside in a frying pan. After crisping the outside, the burgers can be kept warm in the oven while the rest are fried so everyone can be served at once. Adding a thin layer of flour on the outside provides a surface to fry and helps dry out the outer layer of the burger. This drying is what eventually makes the outside crispy as heating in oil drives off more and more water. The same result can be achieved without the flour but it really does speed up the process and give a much more even cook.
These burgers are not only vegan but can easily be made gluten free too so everyone can eat them. Instead of frying the burgers you can bake them in the oven for about 25-30 minutes at gas mark 6 (200°C) flipping them halfway through. This will not give you such a crunchy exterior but is obviously a little more healthy (although in my opinion, there is so much goodness in these burgers that it more than makes up for the oil that is absorbed during frying). As always, if you choose to fry the burgers, never leave the pan of oil unattended and, if you do end up with a fire, for the love of god do not pour water on it! Turn off the heat and if you can get close enough, lay a damp (but not dripping) tea towel or fire blanket over the pan. I don’t expect there to be an issue with this recipe because the oil shouldn’t be getting so hot that it reaches its flashpoint but it is better to be safe than sorry.
You won’t miss the meat when you try these burgers. They are filling, flavourful and look amazing. Let me know if you try them for yourselves!
Black Bean Burgers
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes
1 can black beans – 400g
1 medium carrot
1 medium onion
1 small tin sweetcorn – about 200g (frozen sweetcorn will also work)
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground chilli (you can reduce or increase this to your personal tolerance and enjoyment of spice)
½ tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1 cup flour + extra for dusting (you can use any flour for this – buckwheat flour will make these gluten free)
Finely chop the onion and the garlic.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and lightly sauté the onions and garlic until translucent.
Whilst the onion is cooking, finely grate the carrot.
Add the carrot to the onion and cook until it starts to soften. Remove the pan from the heat.
Drain the black beans and tip half of them into a big bowl.
Lightly mash them with a fork until all of them are broken up but not completely pureed.
Drain the sweetcorn if you are using the tinned variety
Add the rest of the beans, the onion and carrot mix and the sweetcorn.
Sprinkle over the spices, salt and pepper and stir through.
Add the flour and mix until combined.
Split the mixture into quarters – these will become your four burgers.
Take one quarter of the mixture and shape it into a patty with your hands.
Place it into a small bowl of flour to dust the outside and lay it on a lined baking sheet.
Repeat with the remaining mixture.
Place the burgers in the freezer for half an hour to firm up before cooking.
(The burgers can be frozen at this point.)
To cook the burgers, heat half a centimetre of oil in a large non-stick pan and add the burgers – you may have to cook them two at a time as you do not want to overcrowd the pan.
Allow the burger to fry on a medium heat for about five minutes until it has turned a deep golden brown on the base.
Flip the burger and repeat. If you like a bit more colour on the burger, continue to fry on each side for a little bit longer.
Serve in a lightly toasted bun with your choice of relish and salad. Here I have used a spicy tomato relish and added some fresh coriander.
You can jazz these things up with any veg you fancy, I have seen many recipes for Mexican style burgers with lots of peppers and fajita seasoning. You could swap out the black beans for another type too if you prefer.
If you are a fan of pulses, why not check out my recipes for falafel and hummus?
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a nice and easy sweet recipe.