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Corn and Amaranth Griddlecakes with Spicy Black Beans

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Serves 4

Yields about 8 griddlecakes and 2-1/2 cups beans

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 109

This hearty meatless main course is chock full of flavor and texture. The griddlecakes are crisp, tender, and slightly peppery from the amaranth flour, and the beans deliver a kick. Serve with sliced avocado and pico de gallo.

For the black beans
  • 1/2 lb. dried black beans
  • 1 Tbs. crumbled dried epazote, or 2 to 3 fresh epazote leaves (optional)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 to 1 Tbs. finely chopped chipotle chile (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
  • 1/2 Tbs. cumin seeds, toasted and ground
For the griddlecakes
  • 2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs.) amaranth flour
  • 1 oz. (1/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • Fine sea salt
  • 3 oz. (1/2 cup) medium-grind cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 4-oz. can diced fire-roasted green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (white and green parts)
  • 1/2 medium jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • Olive oil for the pan
Make the black beans

Rinse the beans and combine them in a 4-quart pot with the epazote (if using), garlic, and about 6 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, then reduce to the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the beans are just tender, about 1 hour. Add 1 tsp. salt and simmer gently for another 10 minutes. Remove the beans from the heat and let them cool in their liquid.

Drain the cooked beans, reserving the liquid. Return the beans to the pot and add the cilantro, chipotle, cumin, and about 1 cup of the reserved bean liquid. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. The beans should be very moist; if necessary, add more bean liquid.

Make the griddlecakes

In a large bowl, sift the amaranth flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 3/4 tsp. salt. Whisk in the cornmeal and pine nuts.

Melt 2-1/2 Tbs. of the butter. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg, and melted butter. Stir in the chiles.

Melt the remaining 1/2 Tbs. butter in a 10-inch nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the corn kernels, scallions, jalapeño, and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring, until the corn shows a few light-brown spots, about 5 minutes. Stir the corn mixture into the wet ingredients. (You can prepare the griddlecakes to this point up to 4 hours ahead.)

When ready to cook the cakes, combine the wet and dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Heat about 2 tsp. of olive oil in a large nonstick pan or on a griddle over medium-high heat. Drop 1/4 cup of the batter at a time onto the hot pan and gently spread with the tip of a spoon to make 3-inch cakes. Cook the griddlecakes until tiny air bubbles begin to pop through the tops, 3 to 4 minutes; then flip them and cook until deep golden-brown and crisp on the bottom, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Repeat until all of the batter is cooked.

Ladle the beans into shallow bowls and top with the griddlecakes.

Make Ahead Tips

You can prepare the beans up to 1 day ahead; refrigerate them in their liquid.

Variations

To make the black beans in a pressure cooker, combine the beans, water, epazote, and garlic as directed in the recipe. Add 2 Tbs. vegetable oil (recommended by Fagor to lessen foaming). Lock on the lid and bring the cooker to high pressure. Once high pressure is reached, cook for 15 minutes. Release the pressure and taste a few beans for doneness. If not quite tender, bring the cooker back up to pressure (this will take only about a minute), cook for another 2 minutes, and check again. Finish the beans according to the recipe, but simmer them for only 5 minutes after adding the salt so they don’t overcook.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 600; Fat (g): fat g 26; Fat Calories (kcal): 230; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 8; Protein (g): protein g 22; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 75; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 1410; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 75; Fiber (g): fiber g 17;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Wonderful! Can't wait to make this again! I had to switch a few thing up (replaced the flour for corn flour to make it gluten free, almonds instead of pine nuts because I'm cheap, and an extra egg to make up for the lack of gluten) but it was amazing! Even the hubby thought that it was delicious. Thanks!!!

This was fantastic - especially with fresh salsa and avocado. I used a fresh green anaheim pepper roasted in teh oven instead of canned, canned beans instead of dried, and canned corn instead of frozen (because that is what I had on hand). I threw four cloves of crished garlic into the beans and let them simmer for much longer than recommended after they'd cooked. Will definitely make this again.

I like this idea, but feel it needs tweaking. The beans are a bit one-note. They're spicy but lack any more interest. I added a hit of lime juice and I thought it improved them a little. Since the beans were already spicy, I opted to leave out the jalapeno and green chiles in favor of diced poblanos and red bell peppers. We loved the griddlecakes, their texture and flavors were really terrific.

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