Help Needed Cooking Black Beans

From the recipes you’ve cited with approval, I think my very favorite black bean food (which is a stiff competition) should be perfect for you: I love black bean burgers. You can do all kinds of things with them, but the basic idea – just mush 'em up in a patty with whatever flavors and spices you want, along with something to hold things together, cook it however you want, and then eat it however you want – is so versatile that it’s a great go-to.

My most frequent version is garlic and onion, cumin, hot paprika and/or chili powder, along with an egg as a binding agent, smash it all up, cook it up in a pan, put it on whatever bread I have with avocado and whatever other vegetables are on hand. When I imagine it in my head, it’s got onion and jalapeno and guacamole and tomato (I know that’s right out) and it’s on a kind of toasted roll, because that’s how they did the baked black bean burger at my favorite bar a while back. But it can go on a salad, it can go with a million different seasonings and sauces, it can go in or on all kinds of toast or bread or wraps, and it can be topped with anything. If you’re a cheese person, it’s a tremendous cheese vector. Sometimes when supplies or time or inclination are low, the ingredient list is as low as three or four, and I just smash up a bunch of black beans with one or two ingredients and fry it up messily, and it’s still good. It’s just not classy.

I’m sorry if my previous post sounded pushy or aggressive and, on reread, I see it might have. I’m excited that you’re trying new foods that I myself enjoy and that I enjoy reading and writing about. That you’re doing this in your own kitchen allows you to conclusively exclude any unacceptable components without having to take the word of a waiter or cashier that may not have a handle on what’s really in there and I don’t blame you one bit for being suspicious.

One of my favorite things to have with refried beans is chorizo, chopped onion, cilantro & sour cream + salt & lime juice. Fresh chorizo is widely available here in Chicago and probably in NW Indiana but, even though it isn’t typically in there, I can’t promise it won’t contain you-know-what. I think a homemade picadillo would make a fine substitute, a ground beef taco filling. It’s infinitely flexible, whatever you want goes. I’d start with chopped onion & seeded jalapenos, add chile powder & cumin and a few ounces of beer and let everything sweat covered. Remove the lid and taste to adjust salt and other seasonings and let the liquid steam away. You can add things like peas, carrots & corn. I’ve had restaurant picadillo with small lima beans and quarter inch cubes of potato, delicious!

I’m thinking that going half black bean/half ground meat would make a great burger, as well as your all bean burger. Slap them on hamburger buns with whatever condiments strike my fancy

As it happens, a new supermercado opened just two blocks down the road from me (walking distance!) which will be a great resource. NW Indiana has a sufficient Latinx presence that getting food types from south of the border is pretty easy. They make many items on site (they are also licensed for take-out of prepared foods) so I might be able to get a comprehensive and reliable ingredient list from the folks doing that work.

The store I work at also has a fairly large section of Hispanic foods and the advantage of commercially made stuff is that they do list ingredients and I’ve learned how to contact companies to ask about anything remaining that might be ambiguous.

I’m beginning to suspect some of my past dislike of hot peppers stemmed from their frequent pairing with tomatoes which, of course, would result in adverse reactions that led me to associate peppers with illness. Now that I’m able to eliminate the tomatoes I find I’m liking the peppers, although I’m still a bit timid with them because I am completely not used to the burn.