(old - bliggity blaggity black - beans)
(last worked on: January 12th, 2018)

You're looking at the end result--

--and here's what you can do with a cold one (5 minutes)
(Tasted fine with ketchup but, somehow, my wife did not like them, so I ate hers too.)

* If no one in your house likes these bean-burgers, best not give them to your dog. Folks around here say that dogs bloat and get into trouble with beans.

* I tried ladeling hot beans from the pot over baked, buttered, salted and fork mashed potatos (still in the peeling/shell). That was good enough that my wife also ate a helping --but I like the burgers better. Next I'll try beans and butter on our home made oat bread. (Later: yup, that was good too.)

* We've long known that eating red meat is bad for you and bad for the planet --despite that it's affordable and good tasting. We also know that off-the-shelf or vegetarian restaurant Yuppie food substitutes are both expensive and not without questions. (Soy? GMO? Need good teeth to eat it? Got $9.00 plus tip for a sit-down vegeburger?)

* What's really needed is a McDonald's style, fast food, drive-through vegeburger (--but with far fewer choices, lower prices and a drive-up reader menu --before you get to the speaker).

* Failing that, here's some DIY, starting with OLD black beans --beans which have been sitting on our pantry shelf for at least a decade --24 quarts of the dang things.

* Why black beans? Because they're supposed to be one of the most nutritious and protein laden plant foods available --to help keep vegetarians from starving to death. They don't taste like much, but with enough onions, salt, butter and sugar, even an old pair of socks can taste pretty good.

First off: let's hear from some experts --the kind of folks who write books and post web pages.

* We start with what should be the last word --from the venerable Ms. Aliza Green, who wrote The Bean Bible (copyright: 2000). Unfortunately, she doesn't take a firm position on the very first issue of black bean preparation: whether or not to soak-wash them. She does, however, present ample opinions for and against, while making it clear that her practice is to soak beans --especially old beans --and at length.

* Soaking is said to remove indigestible "oligosaccharides" --the stuff which make people phart. To make it work, you need to change the water 3 times during the soak period and rinse between changes. However: urban legend has it that many folk's digestive systems soon gets use to the challenge of unsoaked beans.

* OLD beans and most store bought beans are said to need soaking in order rehydrate and cook evenly (if not be soak-washed as well). Really old beans can take 12 to 24 hours --which might result in fermentation --which is headed off by cold water rinsing and water changes. (It's implied that fermentation is not a good thing --hmmnnn: but might it help with digestion? Might it lend an interesting sour taste?)

* Some chefs, however, do not presoak-wash beans, saying it flushes away minerals and flavor. Yes: they cook their beans in the soak water --or maybe they slow-cook, such that the beans are simultaneously soaking. This is the method used by the indigenous peoples who dwell in the region between Central and South America ("MesoAmerica") --as we learn from Fast Vegetarian Feasts, by Ms. Martha Rose Shulman (1986).

* In the interests of experiment and simplicity, and before discovering the "Food Lab", I washed my OLD beans in a colander, but I didn't presoak or further wash/rinse them. Now: having eaten at least 3 cups of the finished beans, I've so far experienced no "digestion" problems (oh: social ruin!).

But --stop the music! :-) At the web site for "THE FOOD LAB", ("Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science"), the oddly named J. Kenji López-Alt --holds forth with what is surely the last word ( or 2 words) on soaking beans: "Don't bother". Take the link and learn why.

Yes: my old beans were a long time a-brewing: about 12 hours. I made a double batch: 2 cups of washed black beans (plus all the other ingredients) in a "slow cooker" set to "low"; another 2 cups in a medium enamelware pot placed in a 210 degree (Fahrenheit) oven. The oven pot finished first (my wife pronounced upon bean softness), so next time I'll try the slow cooker on its "high" setting. (There's no "medium" option on our bargain cooker.)

* Another issue is when to add the salt --and how much. Some say to put it into the cook pot straight away and even into the pre-soak water --in order to preserve the bean's skin and integrity. Others say to wait until half way through the cooking period or even after, since you want the beans/cellulose to get soft. This is also said to help with "digestion". So: I added the salt at the 11th hour and stirred it in.

To Make a Pot of Beans: The Recipe (using the no pre-soak method):

* Put into the slow cooker: 2 cups of well rinsed black beans, 2 quarts of water, 1 large or 2 medium onions (diced), 4 to 6 teaspoons of granulated dried garlic, 1 tbs. cilantro, 1 tbs. parsley. (Optionals: lots of diced mushrooms, a diced green pepper, a jalapeno -sliced and seeded.) Set aside: 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt, to be added after the beans are cooked.

* Slow cooker (possibly on the "medium" or "high" setting, not the "low setting"), or place a pot into a 210 degree F oven --for up to 12 hours, stirring it a few times.

* Add the salt, maybe a quarter cup of sugar, stir and cook another hour.

* Scoop the beans out into bowls with a strainer type serving spoon and top with a generous pat of butter.


Now you can make the Bean-Burgers:

* Put into a flat-bottomed mixing bowl: 2 cups of well drained, cooked black beans (per the above recipe), along with a good representation of whatever's been cooked with it (onions, spices, mushrooms), 2 slices of coarse grated bread, 1 teaspoon of seasoned salt (something like: "Lemon-Pepper"), 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (add 1/4 level tsp of xanthan --if you use a home-ground, non-gluten flour). Optionally, add in 1/4 cup of sugar (or brown sugar). Try it with and without. My first batch was without and it tasted pretty good, even by itself.

* Mix the ingredients together --which might/should be rather dry. Rapid stamps with a potato masher should get it (not slow, bear-down mashing strokes). No big deal on the mixing. It tastes just as good with plenty of black beans still showing.

If it's on the moist to watery side, that's okay. The xanthan might take up excess water after a short while, or you can just slow cook it dryer.

* Put cooking oil into a big black iron frying pan. This bean concoction ends up oil thirsty, so start with plenty --and maybe you can't afford enough "extra virgin" olive oil. I ended up with Mazola ("good for the heart" says the bottle) --the oil we normally pop corn in (using a "Stir Crazy").

* Turn up the heat until the oil is hot, run the heat back to med-low and lay in your bean glop --no more than 1/2 inch thick, so that it cooks (firms/browns) through, and cut into patties with your spatula. You'll have to scrape them off the pan (with a plastic spatula if you're stuck with a non-stick pan) and turn them over several times in order to keep oil under the patties.

Cooking will and should take a while --until both sides look like the photo. (No blacker --bad for you.)