Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : California Black Bean Burgers, Oven-Fried Potato Wedges, and Chocolate Milkshake

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Damn, do I love a good burger. It never fails: Annie and I will go to a new nice restaurant somewhere, with all this new, fancy food on the menu that we’ve never tried, and invariably I’ll be drawn to the veggie burger. They could serve, like, mock pegasus in a gummyberry reduction sauce, and I’d still be all “Well, the burger looks pretty good…”

I fully recognize that this is entirely a result of by adolescent brain having been warped by McDonald’s ads. And yet, I’m still willing to go with it. I mean, it’s not like I’m ACTUALLY going to McDonald’s—in fact, I spend a good chunk of my day thinking of ways to make trouble for them. I’m just scratching the part of my brain that enjoys basking in pretend Americana. Take a good burger, pair it up some French fries (seriously, Chiquita, you’re cute and all, but we all know that fries are the world’s most perfect food), add a chocolate milkshake, and poof: you’re 8 years old all over again, sitting in a booth with your mom and dad and 1.5 siblings, having just finished up your paper route and planning to ride your bike out to the cornfield after dinner for a game of twilight stickball, your grandfather’s catchers’ mitt dangling from your handlebars, your talking dog running loyally behind you in the street. Or something like that.

Now, I’m gonna be real with you about this recipe. It falls precisely in the category of “what meat-eaters think vegans want to eat.” The consistency of the burgers is pretty mushy—we made a couple of tweaks to Betty’s recipe to firm them up a bit, and I think we got them pretty good, but they’re still on the soft side. The flavor is really nice though, and with some fresh veggies on top, this makes for a pretty nice sandwich—if a bit messy.

Black Bean Burgers (makes four burgers)
  • 1 15-oz can black beans (drained)
  • 1 4.5-oz can chopped jalepenos (drained)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (we threw two of the leftover whole wheat hot dog rolls from yesterday in the food processor for ours, but you can just use the kind from a can if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns
  • 1 head lettuce (green or red, but not iceberg)
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 avocado
  • Vegetable oil (for cooking)
  • Vegainse (as a condiment)

First, drain your black beans. Betty specifically says not to drain them, but our first batch of these ended up too liquid-y to form into patties—so we’re saying drain the beans. Put them in your food processor, and process them until they’re mushy. Don’t pulverize them—you still want to see pieces of beans in there. It won’t take more than a few seconds. Transfer the bean paste into a mixing bowl.

In the mixing bowl, mix the bread crumbs, jalepenos, chili powder, and egg replacer into the beans. Using your hands, form the mixture into four patties, about the size of a Boca burger. Coat each patty on both sides with the cornmeal—we did this by putting the cornmeal in a bowl and just laying each side of the patty in it.

Heat up some oil in your frabjous cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Once it’s good and hot, cook the patties in the oil for about 5 to 10 minutes, turning a few times so that both sides cook evenly. You want them to get nice and crispy on the outside, without burning (duh). I’d err on the side of letting them get a little overdone on the outside to make sure the insides firm up.

Do up your burgers however you like burgers. The ingredients above are how we did ours—sliced tomatoes and avocados, a couple of lettuce leaves, and veganaise. Annie threw some BBQ sauce on hers as well. Toast your buns for a nice little extra touch.

Oven-fried potato wedges
Just checking to see if you’re paying attention. Annie already showed you how to make these.

Chocolate milkshake (2 servings, or 1 huge shake)
  • ¾ soy milk
  • ¼ cup chocolate syrup (whatever you would use to make chocolate soy milk)
  • 1 pint vegan vanilla ice cream (we always, always use So Delicious Simply Decadent and strongly recommend you do the same)

This one’s hard, so take notes. Put ingredients in blender. Blend on low speed until smooth (ours took about five seconds). Pour into glasses, and serve. Try to avoid pouring directly from the blender into your mouth. It’s extremely messy.


  1. THANK YOU this is it!!! I have been looking for something fun, easy yet yummy for valentine's day.... I realize not really "romantic" but hey we have 4 kids that join us ;)

  2. I think you should take more time off work just so you can blog more. These have been hilarious