I am a big fan of the burger. One of the very first eateries we encountered here in Chicago was a lovely bar, right around the corner from where I now work, called O’Neil’s (sadly, it’s gone now and replaced by a lame clothing store). They had big, fat, juicy burgers, great fries, and of course, the much-needed brewsky to wash it all down. The outdoor seating, fairly new to us Southern transplants, was icing on the cake, so to speak.
Midway through grad school, a few of us discovered the Chili’s build your own burger special (how we found it is beyond me, as we certainly weren’t watching a lot of TV those days), and many dinners (and of course, brewskys) were consumed there – my “southwestern-style” burger and Cheryl’s mushroom/swiss burger – the cessation of that special was more hurtful than having my fingernails yanked out. Well, close, at least. Very close.
While I do love a good burger, I certainly don’t eat them nearly as much as I used to, but now that M Burger is open on the north side of my building, I smell those damn burgers all the time – there isn’t much better than the smell of a grill, especially on a warm summer day, of which we’ve had quite a few lately. And while their standard burgers are extra-tasty, simple, and eerily reminiscent of McDonalds’ burgers (but much, much better, and fresher, and if possible to use this word in the same paragraph as burger, likely healthier), their vegetarian burger is out of this world. Sans patty, the filling is simply a large, thick, juicy beefsteak tomato, finished off with the basics and M Burger’s ‘special sauce’, which again, is probably a riff off the Golden Arches burger.
It’s safe to say that, during this month of vegetarianism, I have wanted nothing more than a juicy, all-beef burger. With bacon. Why, I’ve caught myself drooling at least twice in the middle of restaurants, the juice from the burgers dripping all over the diner’s hands, running down their arms. I wanted to bathe in it. But I used what class I have, which isn’t too much, and I continued to munch on my wheat berries, washing them down vigorously with a hefty glass of Malbec.
So unfortunately, we’re still not in the clear here (4 days left!), and for the time being, I’m going to give props to this black bean burger recipe I snagged from The Kitchen Sink. It’s the second black bean burger I’ve made this month (yes, I was trying desperately to satisfy a burger craving, and failing miserably), but only the first one I’ve liked. It’s loaded with enough fixin’s to make you forget, momentarily, that there’s no meat. Does it replace a ‘real’ burger? H, E, double hockey sticks, NO.
Black Bean Burgers
Adapted from The Kitchen Sink, who adapted from Gourmet; serves 4
2 (14-ounce) cans organic black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
3 T 2% Greek yogurt
1/3 c plain dry bread crumbs
1 T g flax seeds (optional)
1 t g cumin
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t chipotle chili powder
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
3 T canola oil
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns
Fixin’s: sliced avocado, spinach, red bell pepper slices, goat cheese, red onion
Pulse 1 can beans in a food processor with yogurt, bread crumbs, cumin, oregano, cayenne, chipotle chili powder, and salt until a mixture is coarsely chopped (will look light greyish and pasty). Transfer to a bowl and stir in cilantro and remaining can beans. Add juice of lime (if mixture comes together well, use less than one lime; my lime was small). Form mixture into 4 patties.
Preheat oven to 300 F. While burgers are cooking, slightly toast buns (optional).
Heat canola oil in a large skillet over med-hi until it shimmers. Cook burgers until outsides are crisp and lightly browned, turning once, about 5 minutes total. Serve on buns, along with the fixin’s.