Paying Off My Debts

On the very short list of Pookie’s favoritest meals is black bean cakes. No matter how they’re made, she loves them, so when Bon Appetit ran a recipe for them in 2004, I knew I had to give them a try. They turned out to be an enormous hassle, but were also, predictably, the first thing Pookie would suggest whenever I’d ask her what she wanted for dinner. Because I loathed making them, I quickly turned the promise of black bean cakes into a bartering chip. I’d beg her to do stuff for me in return for the cakes, and more often than not, I’d totally renege. Going into last weekend, in fact, I think I still owed her three batches for driving me up to Baking Boot Camp four years ago. And then we went into New York to have lunch with Margee of SportSquee fame.

After nine hours of pint-sized margaritas, I needed Pookie and her sobriety to get my very, very drunk ass home from midtown Manhattan. Somewhere along the way, I apparently promised her black bean cakes. I don’t remember this promise, but this time I think she really deserved them.

As it turns out, the recipe is a lot easier now than it seemed four years ago:

3 15-ounce cans black beans, drained (about 4 cups), divided
2 large eggs
3 cups breadcrumbs, divided
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions (about 4)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Puree 2 cups of black beans with the eggs in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in remaining beans, 1 1/4 cups breadcrumbs, and the remaining ingredients. Shape the mixture into ten 1/2-inch-thick patties, using about 1/2 cup of the mixture for each. Coat the cakes with the remaining breadcrumbs.

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and working in batches, cook the cakes in the oil until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side.

The original recipe calls for making the breadcrumbs fresh, with crustless French bread. I think this is where the sticking point was for me, in my decision that I hated making these. Tonight I decided to cut a corner and just used panko, and you know what? It made this recipe a zillion times easier.

I also didn’t have scallions, so I just really thinly chopped a white onion. After all these years of thinking this recipe was a terrible burden, I’ve got to say it was a piece of cake. A piece of black bean cake, that is. Yukety yuk.

Anyway, these are delicious served up with some salsa and sour cream while they’re hot, but they’re also just fabulous plain when they’re cold.

These are so scrumptious they’re well worth keeping in play as my bartering chip with Pookie. Of course, if she ever finds out how easy they are, she’ll probably think of something more comparable in value next time she’s stuck trucking me through Times Square late on a sweltering summer night.

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8 Comments

Filed under Hearty Meals, Hot Commodities

8 responses to “Paying Off My Debts

  1. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of black bean cakes before, but just looking at these photos has convinced me they might be the best thing ever. I wonder if my mom will let me borrow her food processor…

  2. Well, did I mention this is an easy recipe? I think I might have neglected to bring that up. It’s super easy. Just don’t tell Pookie I said that. :D

  3. Sarah

    oooh, those do look good. I have to say, I was reading the recipe and thinking “When does the hard part come in? What is Liz talking about ?” Ahhh, because no mere mortal breadcrumbs for you. I love panko and use it all the time.

  4. I want it stated for the record that I did not bring up the bean cakes during the Great Drunk Escape of 2008. Schnookie volunteered it!

    Another thing to note about this recipe is that the leftovers are INSANELY good!

  5. It was such a drag de-crusting a loaf of french bread, then food processing it up, then toasting it, and blah blah blah, and THEN making the rest of this. SUCH a drag! It was TERRIBLE! GRUELING! :P

  6. Douglas

    We notice in your post of June 15th, titled, Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, that you indicate that you have a lot of bees in your clover field. You’re lucky and that’s encouraging. We keep seeing stories about honeybees dying off. We haven’t seen a single bee in our tomato plants all year, and we are worried. We do have some plum tomatoes growing. But in years past, you’d see bees all over the tomato flowers, all the time.

  7. Douglas, we were so thrilled to see all the bees in the yard. We’ve been hearing about the bee problem for a while, and are very sensitive to it because of our apple trees. I haven’t seen many around the garden proper this year, although last year they loved the giant, overgrown catnip plant. Congratulations on the plum tomatoes coming in!

  8. We actually don’t have many honeybees, but we’ve got a bunch of other types of bees buzzing around. I get really, really excited on the rare occasions when we do see honeybees, though.

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