This Black Bean and Rice Cakes recipe is for all of you carnivores out there who can’t imagine having good energy throughout the day without eating meat. And by ‘you’ I guess I mean ‘me’ because the genesis of this recipe came about when trying to create a beans and rice dish that kept me full.
But after eating it all week and still craving it the next day, I don’t even think about the vegetarian aspect of it anymore, or the specifics of beans and rice forming a complete protein. All of that is secondary now as the Taste Bud Center has overridden the Nutritional Department and is demanding more fiery, cumin-tinged black beans crisped up in cornmeal and drenched in a vibrant Chipotle Crema.
Black Bean and Rice Cakes recipe
First, let’s get the boring stuff out of the way (nutrition), then there will be plenty of time for the good stuff (taste).
Basically there are nine amino acids that the body can’t produce on its own, instead relying on diet to provide them. Some foods contain all nine of these essential amino acids; meat, dairy, eggs. This is why people can come to rely on meat so easily as you get so much bang for the buck.
Rice and beans, on their own, do not have all of the essential amino acids. Rice is low on lysine, and beans are low on methionine. But when combined they fill each other’s vacancy and all of a sudden you’ve got a complete protein. That’s good news for skeptical carnivores! (Here’s a good list of other vegetarian sources of complete proteins.)
So is this why rice and beans have become such a staple throughout Mexico? Or is it their cost efficiency? Or maybe because of recipes like this one?!!
Tough question, and best answered after doing a thorough taste test.
You’ll need 1/4 onion, 1/2 jalapeno, and 3 garlic cloves to get started.
Saute the finely chopped onion and jalapeno in a dollop of oil over medium heat.
Let this cook for a few minutes or until the onion and jalapeno are tender.
Add the minced garlic and cook briefly, 30-60 seconds is plenty to bring out the flavors in the garlic.
Drain and rinse a can of black beans. Add the beans to the onion mixture along with:
2 minced chipotles in adobo
1 Tablespoon adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly cracked pepper
splash of water
I usually scrape out the seeds of the chipotles but that is optional. Here is some more info on working with chipotles in adobo.
Let this mixture cook briefly and then add it to a mixing bowl. Use a fork to smoosh the beans but you can leave some of the beans intact.
If you catch a whiff of doubt when you see your mixing bowl full of this mishmash, then take a taste. You’ve already got a smoky, flavor-loaded batch of beans that could easily be eaten on its own, so everything else from this point forward is just a bonus.
And now we’ll add in some you-complete-me rice. I’ve got leftover Arroz Rojo in the fridge so I’m using that.
But any rice will do here; even a simple, cooked white rice would work as you’ve already got plenty of flavor in the bean mixture. (We also recently put up a recipe for a Mexican Green Rice that you could use).
Add one cup of rice to the bean mixture. Combine well and say hello to your complete protein.
Another taste test is in order as this mixture is delicious and will instantly have you dreaming up other ways to use it.
I also want to mention that building these into some crispy cakes can be a bit…delicate. I’ve had the most success once this mixture has cooled a bit. When the mixture is warm the cakes will sometimes crumble apart. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still get great flavor if you plow forward and make them with a warm mixture, just know that you’ll end up with a dish that tastes better than it looks.
So if you’ve got the luxury of time, chill this mixture in the fridge for a couple hours, or give it a quick vacation in the freezer.
Once cooled, add 1/2 cup of cornmeal to a plate and roll the bean-rice mixture into golf ball sized rounds.
Give them a thin coating of cornmeal. I think it’s easiest to keep them round at this point and just roll them in the cornmeal. Once they are cooking in the pan you can flatten them a bit. This batch made 8 half-inch thick cakes.
Coat a wide skillet with 2-3 Tablespoons of oil over medium heat. This pan needed just over 2 Tablespoons to form a thin layer of oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the black bean cakes.
Each side will need approximately 3-5 minutes, but it’s best to keep an eye on them and flip when the cornmeal is turning golden brown.
This batch took about four minutes on the first side.
And about the same on the second side, giving you plenty of time to whip up a delicious Chipotle Crema.
This is a lighter version of our Chipotle Mayo. In a blender combine:
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon cream (or mayonnaise)
1 chipotle in adobo
1 garlic clove
pinch of salt
squeeze of lime
A traditional Chipotle Crema would use all mayonnaise (or cream), but we are using Greek yogurt as a substitute. But that comes with an important disclaimer. Even just a hint of fat will greatly improve the flavor when using yogurt as the base. I use a tablespoon of Mexican Crema but a tablespoon of mayonnaise or heavy cream will do the trick too.
Okay, second side is done cooking by now. Add the Black Bean Cakes to a plate and coat them with plenty of the Chipotle Crema.
Serve immediately and tell the Nutritional Department they can take a break for awhile.
Because if all went according to plan you’ve got a thin, crispy exterior and a delicious flavor bomb of beans and rice inside.
It’s understandable if the scrumptious taste clouds your memory of the essential amino acids, you’ll have a chance to confirm their presence in about three hours when you notice you’re still full.
Give these Black Bean and Rice Cakes a try. They’re a great change of pace and they’ll have you thinking about other ways to add this rice and beans mixture to your life (tacos?!!).
Black Bean and Rice Cakes with Chipotle Crema
- 1 can black beans
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1/4 onion
- 1/2 jalapeno
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 chipotles in adobo
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- freshly cracked pepper
- splash of water
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 2-3 tablespoons oil
For the Chipotle Crema:
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon cream (or mayonnaise)
- 1 chipotle in adobo
- 1 garlic clove
- pinch of salt
- squeeze of lime
- Finely chop 1/4 onion, 1/2 jalapeno, and 3 cloves of garlic. Saute the onion and jalapeno in a dollop of oil over medium for a few minutes or until the onion is tender. Add the garlic and cook briefly, 30-60 seconds.
- Drain and rinse a can of black beans. Add to the pan along with 2 minced chipotles in adodo, 1 tablespoon adobo sauce, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, freshly cracked pepper, and a splash of water. Cook for a couple minutes.
- Add bean mixture to a mixing bowl and use a fork to smoosh the beans, leaving some of the beans intact.
- Add 1 cup cooked rice to the mixture. I used 1 cup of our Arroz Rojo but even a simple, cooked white rice is adequate. Combine well and if you have time, chill this mixture.
- Add 1/2 cup of cornmeal to a plate. Form golf ball sized rounds with the bean mixture and roll them in the cornmeal to coat. This batch made eight cakes.
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of oil to a wide skillet on medium heat Heat oil until shimmering and then add the cornmeal coated cakes. Saute them for 3-5 minutes per side or until the cornmeal turns golden brown. You can flatten them a bit in the skillet if you want to. Serve immediately after cooking.
- To make the Chipotle Crema, add the following ingredients to a blender and combine well: 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon cream or mayonnaise, 1 chipotle in adobo, 1 garlic clove, a pinch of salt, and a squeeze of lime.