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Cowabunga! They're beans!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Holy cow! I can't believe it's not meat!
If I hadn't made the sandwich myself, I'd swear that was meatloaf.

Here's the cross-section of the sandwich:
Like pulled beef, almost
And as a patty:
Version 2.0: Burger
The filling is actually black beans, also called turtle beans (Cowabunga? Get it?). They're slow-cooked with a variety of spices till soft, ground and cooked in a loaf pan in the oven or shaped into patties and baked. They might not taste like meat, but that won't be a problem for many people. Vegetarians and meat eaters alike have enjoyed this sandwich. The pictures show a slice/patty topped with mushroom gravy. The bread in the first and second pictures is onion foccacia.

Black beans are quite mild in taste so they are often combined with spicy seasonings. You can use tinned beans but I think cooking dried beans from scratch is best; I do this in a slow-cooker with chillies and other spices thrown in so the beans pick up all those flavours right from the start.

1 cup dried black beans, cleaned and soaked in water for at least 4 hours (if cooking on the stove, soak for at least 6 hours; drain and change the water every few hours). This yields 3 cups of cooked beans. 
  • To cook, drain the soaking water and place beans in a pot for the stove or in the slow-cooker pot/crockpot. Add cold water to cover by 2cm.
  • To the pot, add 1 medium onion (cut into wedges), 2-4 dried chillies, 2-3 cloves garlic, a pinch of cumin seeds, and a dash of cayenne pepper or chili powder.
  • Switch on slow cooker (my cooker only has an on and off button; if you have a more sophisticated one, cook the beans on High) and leave beans to cook until soft (I leave mine on the boil for about 6 hours). For stove-top cooking, bring the pot of beans to a boil, then reduce heat to a very slow simmer for about 2 hours.
  • When beans are soft, drain them but reserve the liquid. Do not remove the flavouring ingredients (onion, chillies, etc)
And now, for the "meaty" look...

Serves 6
3 cups cooked beans (from the recipe above)
¼ cup dried potato flakes
Cooking liquid from the beans
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh coriander
1 cup toasted breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Preheat oven at 180°C. 
  • Place 1 cup of beans in a food processor and pulse for two seconds so the beans are coarsely chopped. Remove and set aside.
  • Blend the potato flakes with enough cooking liquid to form "mash potatoes". Set aside.
  • Fry the chopped onion in the butter until soft and light brown. Set aside.
  • Place the remaining beans in the food processor with the mash potatoes, cooked onion, coriander leaves and half the breadcrumbs. Process until the mixture holds together. Add more breadcrumbs if too wet or more cooking liquid if too dry. Remove from the food processor and mix with the coarsely chopped beans. Season to taste.
  • For the meatloaf, pack firmly into a well-greased foil-lined loaf pan. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes; remove foil and bake a further 15 minutes or until loaf is firm. For burgers, shape bean mixture into 6 patties and chill for 30 minutes. Place on a foil-lined tray, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, uncover and bake a further 5-7 minutes until firm.
  • Alternatively, shallow fry the patties for 5-7 minutes on each side. 

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