The position of Mrs. Patmore, the cook at Downtown Abbey rotates – informally and unofficially. Nobody has the proper outfit. It would be beyond irregular at Downton Abbey to have Mr. Carson cooking in the kitchen – but he’s often in charge there at Downtown Abbey.
It’s teamwork – and a pleasure to chop vegetables, get distracted with Lady Baby, then come back to find those same vegetables sautéing or in the oven or a salad. Beans put to soak by one person, get cooked by another. And then on this last trip, get made into bean cakes!
Mark Bittman’s recipe for “Black Bean Croquettes” has been forever marked as a possibility in my copy of “How to Cook Everything,” so I was glad to hear they were on the menu at Downtown Abbey.
Wanting to make them back home, I read the recipe and Bittman’s “Basics of Bean Cakes.” Bittman says well-cooked beans are necessary and, because you can add “so many flavors,” canned beans work. (We made plain ones, but he gives recipes for bean croquettes with Southwestern or Asian flavors.)
I chopped two cups of drained, cooked black beans in the blender (don’t puree Bittman says, leave a few chunks).
The recipe calls for half a cup of chopped onions, but I used a mix of shallots and scallions (end of the old and beginning of the new CSA). Then combined the onions and the beans in a bowl with a lightly beaten egg, salt and pepper.
At this point in the recipe at Downtown Abbey, Mr. Carson used a half-cup of crumbs he had made with bakery bread in the food processor and some coarse cornmeal. Because it was handy, I used the panko I had left from the not meatloaf.
You want to add enough of one of these to help the cakes stick together but not be dry – (putting the mixture in the fridge for while before forming into patties helps). This amount makes four generous patties, looking very burger-like.
Mr. Carson heated an eighth-inch of oil in a heavy cast iron skillet and fried his, about three to five minutes a side by Bittman’s instructions. I used the other suggested method, and placed the croquettes on a lightly oiled baking sheet in a 400° oven, turning once, for a total of 20 minutes.
Mr. Carson’s tasted best. Hands down. Crunchy and flavorful. We ate them straight up.
Well, with ketchup of course. A bean croquette is a fine platform for ketchup – or salsa or some exotic chutney – enjoy!