serves 4, adapted from Climbing Grier Mountain
1 lb button mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp cloth
1 15-oz can black beans
frozen onion rings (at least 8, more if you like)
2 TBSP olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP reduced-sodium tamari
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup unsalted chopped pecans
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt
4 whole wheat burger buns
4-6 TBSP Mustard Beer Sauce, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 400. Meanwhile, remove and discard tough stems from mushrooms and very thinly slice the caps (cut in half any mushrooms larger than 2 inches in diameter before slicing). Drain and rinse the beans in a sieve and set aside to let drain.
Place onion rings on a baking sheet on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Flip carefully and cook until golden, another 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet. Add mushrooms and garlic. Cook until mushrooms have released their liquid, 3-5 minutes. Add tamari, vinegar, liquid smoke, paprika, and thyme. Cook another 3 minutes, or until all liquid has evaporated (the mushrooms will remain moist). Set aside.
Heat a countertop electric grill(*). Meanwhile, use a coffee grinder to process the pecans and oats--in separate batches--into a fine meal. Add to a mixing bowl and stir in the 1/2 tsp salt. Add drained black beans. Mash roughly with a fork until you get a thoroughly mixed dough with some whole beans remaining. Stir in mushrooms. Form four large patties (wet your hands in between to prevent sticking). Cook with the grill closed until golden and cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Carefully use a thin, wide spatula to transfer them to a plate--they will be delicate at this point--and let cool 5 minutes. During this time, they'll firm up and become much easier to handle.
Preheat oven broiler, cut buns in half, and toast cut sides. Serve burgers topped with onion rings (two per burger, or to taste) and a tablespoon or so of mustard beer sauce.
1/4 cup pale ale, such as Sierra Nevada
1/2 cup dijon mustard
2 TBSP natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice)
Let ale sit at room temperature for about an hour to allow the beer to lose some of its carbonation. Whisk beer together with mustard and sugar. Adjust seasoning, if needed. (Commercially prepared dijon mustards typically contain enough salt that you won't need to add any, but your mileage may vary.)
(*These should also work reasonable well in a skillet, browning on both sides, but be very careful when you flip them to keep the burgers intact. If you have success baking them, let us know.)