Black Bean Burgers

Black Bean Burgers

Thanks to my Aunt Marie’s irresistible cooking, I fell off my meatless mission last weekend.  How could I pass up her homemade Korean spare ribs?  Her baked pork fried rice knocked my socks off during my last visit and since I only see her once a year (she’ll tell you I need to visit more, which is not untrue), I can’t possibly sit there and eat a plate of roasted vegetables, however excellent, feeling like I was missing out on something extraordinary.

Black Bean Burgers

But I got right back on track with continuing to eat meatless for the rest of the month and even though my lunch on Monday was a shameful carb fest, we’ve not been without a bounty of ideas for healthy vegetarian meals.  These black bean burgers was one such meal and it was really something special.  I seriously had these burgers on the menu for weeks before I made them and when I finally got Kyle to agree to eat them, he was just as blown away as I was.  In fact, after I broke up a couple of the burgers during the week and stuffed them inside baked potatoes for lunches, we fought over the last burger.  Full of protein and set atop of some fresh baby spinach on a whole wheat bun, this black bean burger is a meal in itself but I think they would also be spectacular with some oven fries, zucchini fries, or a toss salad on the side.

And since January is slowly dwindling to an end the operative question becomes, what will be my first “official” non-meatless meal in February?

Black Bean Burgers

Yield: 6 burgers


  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced


  1. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Mix the breadcrumbs and 2 teaspoons of the oil in a medium bowl with a fork until the breadcrumbs are evenly coated. Add the breadcrumbs to the skillet and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally at first then more frequently as they begin to brown. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
  2. Add 2 ½ cups of the black beans to a large bowl and lightly mash them with a fork or potato masher until they are almost smooth. In a separate small bowl, beat the eggs, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper together. Stir the egg mixture, bread crumbs, remaining beans, red peppers, cilantro, and shallots into the mashed beans until well-combined. Chill the mixture for 30 minutes.
  3. Once chilled, shape the mixture into 6 patties (about ½ cup each). (At this point the patties can be refrigerated on a plate covered tightly with plastic wrap for 24 hours.) Chill the shaped patties until you’re ready to cook them.
  4. Wipe out the original skillet, add 1 ½ tablespoons of oil and heat the oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Working in two batches, carefully transfer 3 of the patties to the skillet. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, very carefully flipping halfway through (they will be slightly fragile), until both sides of the burgers are nicely browned. Repeat with the second batch of patties. Serve hot.


Bacon Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam

I debated about whether I should share a sweet or a savory recipe with you today.  And it wasn’t an easy decision.  Cookies, bars, or burgers?  But I felt really strongly about you guys needing these burgers in your lives.  Like, pull-that-bacon-and-ground-beef-out-of-the-freezer-before-you-go-to-work strongly.  You’ll regret not putting them on your tables tonight.

OK, maybe if you’re having pizza tonight you won’t regret not having these burgers but for the love of all things good, don’t let the weekend go by without them.  The burgers infused with bits of finely diced bacon and then they’re topped with this other-worldly concoction of slow cooked red onions mixed with [yes more] bacon and balsamic vinegar that thickens into a jammy sauce.  A nice liberal slice of sharp cheddar finishes everything off and by the end of dinner, you’ll wish you had the chance to rewind and start it all over again.  Damn that lack of time travel thing.

We served some baked oven fries alongside these babies but frankly, any typical burger side will work here too, as would a heaping mound of grilled veggies or fresh fruit (you know, for the guilt-factor).  We’ve found our new favorite burger and you can assume that if you’re coming to our house for dinner any time this summer, these are what we’ll be making for you!

Bacon Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam

Yield: 4 servings


    For the Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam:
  • 4 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, sliced into ½-inch wide pieces
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced (about 1 ½ cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup water
  • For the Burgers:
  • 2 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, finely diced
  • 1 ¼ pounds ground beef (85% or 90% lean)
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¾ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns, split
  • Sliced sharp cheddar cheese, optional


  1. To make the jam: Heat a large saute pan (that has a cover) over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until browned but not crispy, about 8 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and let it drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Drain off all but 2-3 tablespoons of the bacon grease and then stir in the onions, about 1/4 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cover the pan to cook the onions for 2 minutes. Uncover the pan and in a splash of water, scraping the bits off of the bottom of the pan with a spatula or wooden spoon. Recover the pan and cook the onions for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and lightly browned.
  2. After the onions have cooked for 10 minutes, stir in the balsamic vinegar, mustard, and water then return the bacon to the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens and is almost completely absorbed, about 2-4 minutes (mine definitely took upwards of 4 minutes). At this point, the jam can be covered and refrigerated (you can make it up to 2 days in advance). If using immediately, set it aside in a bowl until ready to use.
  3. To make the burgers: Using a fork, lightly mix the finely diced bacon with the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and ground pepper in a medium bowl until the ingredients form a uniform mixture. Shape the burger mixture into four equal-sized patties, about 1-inch thick. Cook the burgers on a grill pre-heated to medium-high, about 4-5 minutes per side. Once you flip the burgers, add the cheese (if the cheese is thinly sliced, give it a minute or two on the second side before adding it). Once cooked to desired doneness, remove the burgers from the grill and set them aside to rest for 5 minutes before adding the topping, placing on the buns, and serving. No ketchup required.


source: adapted from Fine Cooking, July 2011, via Annie’s Eats and Cook Like a Champion

The Ultimate Veggie Burger

The Ultimate Veggie Burger

Sometime around 1999, I tried a veggie burger for the first time.  It was frozen, from the grocery store, and not as horrific as my little brother proclaimed it was.  Actually, I kind of liked it but then proceeded not to eat another one ever again.  And for no specific reason, just that beef [or chicken or turkey] burgers made more sense to me.  Flash forward to 2012 where about 50% of our meals each week are vegetarian.  This time, I have specific reasons: increasing the number of [oftentimes] lower caloric and nutrient-rich veggie-packed meals we eat, lowering our carbon footprint, saving a few bucks on meat that seems to be ever-so expensive these days, and do I even have to mention pink slime?  (Whole Foods in Danbury, CT, please hurry up and get built!!!)


For at least a year now, I’ve been wanting to make veggie burgers at home and I’m so, so glad I finally did because I totally fell in love with them.  Earthy and deeply, almost roasted flavored from sautéed vegetables and mushrooms, these burgers are a meal by themselves.  Primarily held together by a mixture of lentils, black beans, bulger, and panko breadcrumbs, the texture is decent – definitely not cardboard-esque like those which hail from the freezer section but more like that of a crab cake: light, soft, and a little messy (though not messy to cook, just a little messy to eat).  Grilled or pan-fried, served atop some homemade buns with your choice of toppings and a little garlic aioli, and you’ve got yourself a hearty and completely satisfying meatless burger.  The only downfall to this recipe is that it isn’t a quick one.  I felt like I used every pan and bowl in my kitchen that night last week and from start to finish, these burgers took me about an hour to make.  The good thing is that the recipe yields 12 large burgers (there’s no harm in even making them a little smaller) and you can freeze the uncooked remaining veggie burger patties.  For this I’m ecstatic because now I’ve got an instant and fabulous dinner ready for when we’re ready to fire up our new grill!

BBQ Chicken Burgers


If you’re familiar with New England vernacular, you’ve heard the term “wicked good” being thrown around a bit.  Meaning insanely good, it’s a term I’ve been resistant to, being from “Lawng” Island, and all.  And for years after I started attending college in Connecticut way back in the 90s, I couldn’t help but cringe when it emerged in conversation.

But despite my dislike for all things “wicked good,” I couldn’t come up with a better way to describe these BBQ Chicken Burgers.  With an ingredient list that includes a homemade bbq sauce, cilantro, and scallions, my pal Josie completely outdid herself when she developed this recipe.  If you want to go a step further with the recipe, Josie suggests adding some barbecued pulled pork which will add a touch of smokiness to the burgers (I foolishly didn’t think far enough in advance to take the pulled pork out of the freezer).  Oh yeah…pulled pork inside a grilled chicken burger.  Josie is from the South, after all, and I suppose she’s got some vintage cookbook about 101 ways to work with pulled pork floating around her kitchen just like I’m sure she’s got one with 101 ways to wield peaches. 😉 Regardless of where she got the brilliant idea for these burgers, I foresee them making the cut for my weekly menu at least 6 or 7 more times this summer.

BBQ Chicken Burgers

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 burgers

I realize that ground chicken has a reputation for being dry when cooked but even with the addition of cornmeal to the chicken, these burgers retain plenty of their moisture while on the grill. If you’re worried, you can add a little extra bbq sauce; they will be almost too wet to put on the grill so be sure you oil the grates well and have faith that they’ll be great!


    For the bbq sauce:
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tbsp very finely chopped (or grated) onion
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • For the burgers:
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • ½ cup crumbled cornbread or ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup chopped pulled pork (optional)
  • 5 tbsp bbq sauce, divided
  • For serving:
  • Grilled red onion slices
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
  • Additional bbq sauce
  • Hamburger buns


  1. To make the sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Cook the sauce about 7 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be reduced down to approximately 1 cup. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to use. The sauce will keep, refrigerated, for about 1 week.
  2. To make the burgers: Heat the grill to medium-high.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, cornbread, scallion, cilantro, paprika, garlic, mustard, salt, cayenne, brown sugar, pork, and 2 tablespoons of the bbq sauce. Lightly but thoroughly mix with your hands to incorporate all the ingredients. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of bbq sauce to a small bowl.
  4. Form the mixture into 4 equal-sized patties. Brush the grates of the grill with olive oil. Place the burgers and onions on the grill, and cook the burgers 5-6 minutes, then flip. Turn the onions as well. Brush the cooked sides with half the reserved bbq sauce. After 3-4 minutes, flip the burgers again. glazing the other side with the remaining bbq sauce. Place a slice of cheese on each patty, and lay the buns, cut side down, on the grill. Close the lid and allow the cheese to melt and the buns to toast.
  5. Remove all the food from the grill, assembling the burgers as desired. Serve with additional bbq sauce if desired.


sources: burgers adapted from Pink Parsley | bbq sauce adapted from Cook’s Illustrated via Annie’s Eats