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Beef and Black Bean Burger Experiment

Beef and Black Bean Burger Experiment

Don’t freak out! I am not trying to wean myself off meat. I was trying to find a way to stretch the meat and save some money. Beef and bean burritos are great, so I thought I would try mixing beans with my meat for burgers. The plan was to use black beans and ground turkey since it cheaper than beef, but when I went to the store they were out of ground turkey, so I tried it with beef.

I tried using 2/3 beans 1/3 meat, but that was too mushy, so I added more meat making it half and half. That felt right, and I chilled it for a while to make it as firm as possible. I was able to make patties. The plan was to grill them, and that’s what I started to do, but the weather and the fire didn’t cooperate, so I brought them in and cooked them in the iron skillet. Turns out, that was a blessing in disguise. When they were done they were just crumbly enough that the grill would have been a disaster.

I think the crumbliness could be fixed by adding and egg or maybe a spoonful of bacon grease. I probably won’t be trying it myself, though. I wasn’t that impressed with them. My boyfriend liked them, and they weren’t bad at all, but they in no way satisfy a burger craving. So, at this point, if I want to save money, I’ll just eat burgers less often and really enjoy them when I do.

Here is how I did it. Just remember, like most substitute foods, this is good as long as you don’t try to think of it as the real thing.

2 cups Black beans (cooked)
2 cup Ground beef
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup Oats
1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbs Maple syrup
4 large cloves fresh garlic

Drain beans, reserving a little liquid. Put everything except the meat in the food processor until smooth. You can add a tiny bit of the bean liquid if needed. Place in a large bowl with the meat and mix together with your hands. Chill the mixture. Form patties, cook for about 7 minutes on each side.

Casanova Macaroni?

Casanova Macaroni?

I read a book review of a biography of Casanova that happened to mention that, “he liked his macaroni sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.”

That set me on a mission. I wanted to know how this was prepared. Macaroni by itself, even sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, will just dry out. So was it prepared with butter? Was it macaroni and cheese sprinkled with the goodness? What was it?

I pondered, I Googled, I asked my email groups, I beat my head into the monitor until bits of brain and LED goo were splattered all over the walls (OK, I made that last one up, but that’s what it felt like!), and finally I found some leads on what might possibly replicate the elusive dish.

Here is what I finally found:
The Food Journal (page 3)
Pasta: The Story of a Universal Food

So, working on limited time and a limited budget, I decided to give it a go, totaling faking it at the last minute mostly with what I had on hand and making a quick run to the grocery store (about ½ mile away at most) for some gnocchi.

I’ve never made a better, spur of the moment, bad decision in my life (OK, I probably have, but that’s none of your business!). Based on what I gleaned from these recipes here is what I created:

2 cups milk
16 oz package gnocchi
8oz medium cheddar (grated)
½ stock butter

Preheat oven to 350. Heat milk to just boiling. Meanwhile, sprinkle bottom of baking dish with cheese, cinnamon, and sugar. Add gnocchi to heated milk and simmer or warm for 3 minutes. Do not drain. Spoon about half of the gnocchi and milk on top of cheese mixture. Top as evenly as possible with pats of butter. Top with cheese, cinnamon, and sugar. Add the rest of the gnocchi and milk. Top with pats of butter and cheese, cinnamon, and sugar again. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

It was so good!!!

Next time I plan to use a more appropriate hard cheese and top it with braised meat, as suggested. From my reading, the milk can be left out when meat is served on top.

Unlike most dishes, this did not improve after sitting overnight. It was best the first day and made for mediocre leftovers which required salting, which was not necessary on the fresh serving.

In my research I learned that, at one time (in the 1500’s), pasta was almost always heavily sweetened, and that cinnamon was a common spice to add to pasta dishes. The interesting thing about that is that we now know that cinnamon helps the body properly metabolize sugar and may even help with some types of diabetes.

The recipes I found seem to be from the 1500’s. Casanova lived in the 1700’s. I still want to know exactly what it was he was eating!