There’s tremendous controversy swirling around this Sandra Lee recipe. It’s possible that it may eventually come to blows. Many love it, but it also has a lion-size share of haters.
Am I naive becuase it never crossed my mind that Sandra Lee doesn’t actually come up with all these recipes herself? Several commenters on this recipe at FoodNetwork.com suggested that she had a team of test-kitchen chefs who actually come up with these dishes. Really? That sounds like a job I’d be up for. Just sitting around the kitchen all day thinking, “hmmm, peanut butter and…. vodka! Yes! That’s it! Back later, guys. I’m off to BevMo!”
The thought never occured to me that Sandra doesn’t come up with all these recipes on her own, but maybe she’s just too darn busy conditioning that shiny blond hair of hers to bother.
It really is shiny hair, too. Just look at it.
I bet it smells like wildflowers. Gee.
I’m not sure of the actual time Sandra’s Money Saving Meals airs on Saturdays, but it nearly always coincides with my return home from breakfast with MG at our spot, Vintage Enoteca, where the weekend panini specials are peerless. Flopping down into my reading chair with my feet up on the ottoman, desperate to avoid fading into an eight-hour food coma, I usually catch the tail end of Rachael Ray, followed immediately by Sandra… sunny, inviting, 100% Aryan… opening up a world of flavorful and economically sound dishes, and then delightfully revealing to you that, by using her methods and ingredients over more traditional options, you save yourself…wait for it… a whopping… thirty cents! Forty-seven cents! Maybe even… en entire half-dollar! Oh that money-saving Sandra, always looking out for that household food budget. With the money you save following her remarkable hints, your home will always be flush in ballpoint pens, postage stamps and Tang.
This past Saturday, Sandra showed me how to make inexpensive, meatless burgers using just black beans, some breadcrumbs, an egg and some seasonings. I happen to be a major fan of black beans, and nearly always have a can or two in the cupboard. Additionally, MG has been looking to steer clear of ground beef, but loves himself a good burger, so this recipe shot to the top of my must-make list. The divisive reviews on Sandra’s page at FoodNetwork.com, however, gave me pause. One group declared the recipe a glowing success, the other an outrageous disaster. Stories of mushiness, blandness and lack of burger cohesion were alarming. After a year, I have yet to experience a major fail in the kitchen, and I’d like to maintain the record, or at the very least not have it obliterated by black bean burgers, so I carefully poured over each review. Some samples:
“The flavor combination is great but I also had problems keeping the patties together. I wound up adding a bit more breadcrumbs to get the texture right. I am thinking I had extra moisture left from draining and rinsing the beans” – Laurie
“Great taste on this one. Very easy to prepare and even easier to eat. The one thing that I would have done differently is to make the patties thinner. I grilled them and, even though they crisped up on the outside, they were still kind of mushy inside.” – Mike
“WORST RECIPE EVER. Falls apart. Tastes bland. Better off putting the mix into a burrito or taco.” – Cheryl
“I make this at least once a week. It is healthy, tasty, and my husband even likes it! I make a side of sweet potato fries that accompany this dish nicely.” – Kristina
I finally decided to proceed, with caution and the addition of some bonus ingredients to ensure flavor and stability. It was the right move. These burgers are terrific! They take a little more TLC during prep and cooking than your standard burgers would, but the pay out is worth it!
I highly recommend you set aside a portion of the black bean mixture and use as filling in another meal – goes great as a filling in tacos or enchiladas, over eggs or nachos, or could be cooked into a chili or even a dip … so park some in the fridge.
The recipe for the sweet potato fries is also Sandra’s. Lots of taste without the controversy. Sandy says the fries are so flavorful, you can eat them without ketchup. Sandy clearly also believes in unicorns, leprechauns and the Y2K bug, because there is NO FRY known to man that doesn’t benefit from ketchup!
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