Welcome to Day three of the Full of Beans project on Too Many Chefs. On Wednesday we made a big pot of black beans (and maybe had a bowl of them with some spices and onions and cilantro). Yesterday, we made a hearty black bean soup. Today, we're making black bean cakes with a poblano sage cream sauce that must be tasted to be believed.
We're adding binders and fillers to our beans today. Oh sure, that doesn't sound like a good thing, but it is. The black bean cakes (and I wish I could come up with a better name for them than that) will barely hang together, but the nice crispy crust and mix of flavors make the fragility of these cakes forgivable. Though I enjoyed the meal, I'm not 100% happy with the cakes themselves. They're pretty darn good, but I think they could be fantastic with just a little something. Try them and let me know what you think is missing, if anything. Cilantro? Roasted red pepper? Chile peppers?
Nothing's missing in the sauce I made to go with the cakes, however. I started with a poor man's bechamel (a roux plus dairy), simmered some sage in the sauce, and then introduced a poblano and blended it all up into a fantastic, smooth, lightly spicy savory cream sauce you can use for all sorts of dishes.
As you can see above, the mix of pale green sauce and deep purple/black cakes make these cakes exceedingly difficult to photograph, but they aren't hard to eat at all.
Black Bean Cakes
2 cups cooked black beans
2 eggs, beaten lightly
Up to 1 cup fine bread crumbs
1/2 chopped white onion
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Mash the beans with a potato masher. Most of the beans should be somewhat mangled by the time you're done, but don't overdo it. Mix in the eggs and onion. Mix in the spices.
Slowly add bread crumbs until the gooeyness of the beans and eggs mixture dries up. Don't add too much. Leave the mix somewhat sticky.
Heat the oil in a skillet. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the mixture and place it into the skillet. You can fry 2-3 of these at a time without much of a problem. Let cook on the one side until the bottom is showing some signs of browning and the patty holds together. Flip carefully and cook the other side until it is similarly done.
Set aside in a warm oven while you finish the rest of the cakes and prepare the sauce.
Poblano Sage Cream Sauce
1 medium sized poblano pepper
1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup milk
2-4 fresh sage leaves
1/2 oz. queso fresco or queso anejo, crumbled.
salt and pepper to taste
Blacken the outside of the poblano thoroughly over an open flame. Place in a paper bag, close the bag and let sit for five minutes. Scrape off the skin from the pepper. Cut a circle around the pepper 1" below the stem end and separate teh bottom fo the pepper from the crown. Discard the crown and remove any seeds or white veins. Chop the pepper coarsely.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour slowly and stir with a wooden spoon. You will form a paste. Keep stirring and breaking up the paste until it has darkened a little, after about a minute to a minute and a half. Stirring all the time, slowly add the half and half and then the milk. Stir out and break up any lumps that form.
Reduce the heat to low. Add the sage leaves. Stir unitl the sauce coats the back of a spoon thickly. Add the poblano and stir.
Blend the sauce either with an immersion blender and a cover (Alton Brown used the dismembered frisbee trick), or blend the sauce in a food processor or blender with the cover on. Be careful when blending this sauce, it is sticky and hot and will burn you if you aren't careful.
Return the sauce to the saucepan if you've remoed it. Add the queso fresco or anejo and stir until it melts into the sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper to suit.
To serve, either make a pool of the sauce on a plate and lay the cakes on top of the pool or serve the cakes directly on the plate, and spoon or squirt the sauce over the cakes.