(15-ounce) cans black beans, or 4 cups cooked black beans, on the firm side
cup cooked brown rice, cooled
cup chopped cilantro, leaves and tender stems, plus sprigs for garnish
serrano chile, finely chopped
cup chopped scallions, both white and green parts
teaspoon chipotle chile powder or pimentón picante
teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground, or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
Pinch of ground cayenne
large egg, beaten
tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
Neutral oil, such as grapeseed or safflower, for frying
Fine cornmeal, for coating patties
sunny-side up egg per person (optional, but recommended)
Toasted buns, lettuce leaves and condiments (optional)
- Put beans in a colander set over a bowl and drain well. (Reserve juices for another purpose or discard.) Pat the beans dry with paper towels, then mash them a bit with a wooden spoon or potato masher, but leave them chunky.
- Transfer beans to a large bowl with the rice and toss together. Add chopped cilantro, serrano chile, scallions, chipotle powder, cumin and pinch of cayenne, to taste. Season generously with salt and mix well to incorporate.
- Add the egg to the cornstarch solution and beat together, then drizzle it all over the bean mixture and mix well to distribute.
- Form mixture into six thick patties of equal size. Each patty should weigh about 4 1/2 ounces. Place patties on a baking sheet and place in freezer for 10 minutes to firm. (For a firmer mixture, prepare a day in advance of cooking and refrigerate.)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Add 1/2-inch oil to a heavy skillet over medium heat. Dust patties lightly on both sides with fine cornmeal. (It’s OK if they are slightly frozen.) When oil is shimmering, slip the patties into the pan; work in batches to avoid crowding, or use two pans. Fry the burgers gently, about 3 minutes per side until nicely browned, adjusting heat as necessary. Transfer burgers to a baking sheet and let them crisp further for about 20 minutes in the oven (or let them cool and reheat later).
- Meanwhile, fry the eggs, if using. Put a sunny-side-up egg on top of each warm burger, and serve on buns or warm plates with lettuce and condiments, if using. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.