Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's Bean a While

For Ben's birthday back in August, we went to a restaurant that specializes in Southern favorites made with local ingredients. While neither of us were too excited about the okra (plea to actual Southerners: please do not kick us out of North Carolina!) I was very excited about my black bean cakes -- great texture and a fantastic crispy "crust," thanks to a nice panfry.

Last week I attempted to recreate them at home. The recipe I used needs a little tweaking but it definitely has potential. Also, it calls for two cups grated, raw sweet potato -- which stumped me a little bit, but it turns out that one largish potato turns out about four cups grated. That means you can make the recipe twice. I recommend enlisting a sous-chef to handle the actual grating work. Faithful sous-chef Ben prepped my ingredients while I was working late and reported that he thought his arm would fall off. (It didn't actually, in case you were worried.)

Black Bean Cakes
(makes eight)
  • 1 tablespoon oil, plus more for frying
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups grated raw sweet potato
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
  • Sour cream, for serving
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook onions until softened, about 1 minute. Stir in garlic and cumin; cook about 30 seconds.

In a bowl, mash black beans. Stir in onion mixture and season with salt and pepper. Mix in egg, sweet potato and bread crumbs.

Heat several tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Form 8 patties with the bean mixture; cook 4-6 minutes on each side. Serve hot; top with sour cream.

These were good as is, but next time I'm thinking about ginger, red peppers or maybe just lots more garlic. It's hard to go wrong with garlic. Unless you're planning on taking leftovers for lunch the next day. At which point your coworkers may have some specific objections having to do with garlic breath.

As an additional note, Ben liked the black bean cakes but said that eating only vegetables for dinner makes him feel empty inside.

The food: Black bean cakes
The verdict: According to Ben, they're "strong enough for a man but made for a woman"

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