I have a confession to make. I love veggie burgers and not in an ironic way or a “close enough” kind of way. No, I really do love them. Well, I love them as long as they stay true to their veggie patty roots. Start packing soy and seitan in there and you’re going to get a hard pass from me. I know people swear by that kind of thing. But I don’t want an imposture or a stand-in for the burger of the meat variety. I want an honest to god veggie burger, beans and all. And somewhere in all this rambling is, I’m sure, a compelling lesson about being yourself. But man, I don’t want to tease that out. These Chipotle Pinto Burgers are more frivolous and fun than all that. So, deep and compelling they may not be, but proper veggie burgers? Oh, that they certainly are.Jump to Recipe
I have spoken about my frustration with vegetarian food elsewhere on the blog. And on the off chance, you are a regular reader, I will not rehash it here. But if you’ve stumbled across this page and are too disoriented to navigate away, I will give you the cliff notes version. I like vegetarian food because I like vegetables, legumes, grains, all that fun crap. What I don’t like about vegetarian food is its bizarre need to replace. Faux meatballs, hot dogs and, yes, burgers really get my goat – he’s vegan, by the way.
I think the meat substitutes give vegetarian food a bad name. There are plenty of dishes out there that are naturally vegetarian. It is completely unnecessary to borrow from the omnivore’s playbook. Plus, why put that level of expectation on the food you serve. Yes, I know we live in a world of Impossible Burgers and whatnot, but I do think it’s fairly dangerous to promise bacon without actually serving bacon. It might fly, but why put that kind of pressure on yourself?
On top of that, vegetarian food doesn’t need to be an alternative to an omnivore’s cuisine. It is its own cuisines full stop. No need to tag it as an “option” or other it in any way. Vegetables are delicious, and when handled properly, just as capable as meat of becoming transcendent.
Okay, so that wasn’t exactly a cliff notes version. Clearly, still not over it. But let’s press on, shall we? To these thoroughly un-burger-like Chipotle Pinto Burgers. I suppose “patty” would be a more fitting term than “burger”. If you accept the term “burger” to mean a meat patty, usually made of ground beef, then this Chipotle Pinto Burger is certainly not a burger. But let’s go with “burger” because, well, it sounds a heck of a lot sexier than “patty”…Sorry, Patty.
You won’t find any sort of fake-out meat in this here sandwich. Just a hearty patty (there’s that word again) made out of pinto beans, brown rice, mushrooms, chipotle peppers, and corn flour. The result is a toothsome, spicy burger that won’t fall apart while you cook it, which is pretty much the veggie burger holy grail.
As with regular burgers, a veggie burger is only as strong as its toppings. And boy! Do these Chipotle Pinto Burgers bring the noise?! Seated on a bed of shredded purple cabbage dressed with a cooling dollop of avocado crema, these burgers are bathed BATHED! in a thick and lush red Leicester queso. Okay, I realize a good British cheese is not a natural choice for queso, but we be fancy in this house. Also, that is what we had in this house. No, nevermind. I’m not going to apologize for using it. It was sharp, orange and readily available, which I think is very much in the spirit of queso. “Orange and available”. It reads like a very unfortunate Tinder profile.
Naturally, the queso is spiked with fresh jalapenos and a sprinkling of cayenne for a little extra heat. And finally, just to keep things classy, the burgers are finished with an ornate sprinkling of crushed Fritos. Oh, don’t act like you don’t like it. Chips on sandwiches are what we all need in these troubling times.
So, that’s everything you need to know about these gourmet trash food stunners. These Chipotle Pinto Burgers have everything you love about a gratuitous midway burger but with none of the meat and far fewer stabilizers. Except for the Fritos, those will survive armageddon.
Chipotle Pinto Burgers with Queso & Crushed Fritos
Chipotle Pinto Beans
- 4 tbsp olive oil divided
- 227g (8oz) cremini mushrooms diced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 1/2 salt divided
- 1 can pinto beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup cooked brown basmati rice cold
- 1/2 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 lime juiced
- 1/4 cup corn flour not cornstarch
- 1 egg
Red Leicester Queso
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp whole grain mustard
- 1 cup Red Leicester shredded, heaping
- 1 jalapeno quartered and sliced
Chipotle Pinto Burgers with Queso and Crushed Fritos
- 1 batch Chipotle Pinto Burgers see above
- 1 batch Red Leicester Queso see above
- 1 avocado diced
- 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
- 1 lime juiced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 head red cabbage sliced thin
- 4 kaiser buns sliced
- 1/2 cup BBQ Fritos for sprinkling
For the Burgers
- Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and mushrooms and place over medium-low heat. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the salt over the mushrooms and saute low and slow. You want to sweat the mushrooms rather than brown them. Cook until well-softened, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl lined with cheesecloth. Gather the cheesecloth into a bundle and squeeze any excess moisture out of the mushrooms. Discard the liquid and transfer the mushrooms to a large bowl.
- Pour the beans into the bowl with the mushrooms. Using the back of a fork, roughly mashed the beans. No need to be too thorough. Add the rice to the bowl and set aside.
- Place the chipotle peppers, honey, lime juice and cilantro in a large food processor. Blitz until smooth. Add it to the bowl with the rice, beans, and mushrooms.
- Crack the egg into the bowl and add the remaining salt and the corn flour. Using clean hands, toss well to form a cohesive mixture. Form the mixture into four patties and set aside.
- Pour the remaining olive oil into a non-stick pan. Place over medium heat and heat until shimmering. Add the patties to the pan and fry until golden on both sides. Roughly 3-4 minutes a side. Transfer the patties to a plate and keep warm until ready to serve.
For the Queso
- While the patties are frying, make the queso. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat until frothy. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the flour to form a roux. Slowly whisk in the milk, then bring to a low simmer. Reduce the sauce a bit, this should only take 5 minutes.
- Once the sauce resembles the thickness of chowder, stir in the salt, mustard, and cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted and is well-integrated.
- Take the sauce off of the heat and fold in the jalapenos. Let the queso cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Place the avocado in a medium-sized bowl and give it a good mash with the back of a fork. Stir in the yogurt, lime juice, salt, and cumin.
- Spoon a little of the avocado crema on the bottom of each bun. Add a handful of shredded red cabbage to the buns and top each with a burger patty. Pour a little of the queso over the patties and add a sprinkling of Fritos. Place the top bun on top and serve immediately with a beer.