This is another hybrid recipe. Half solar and half traditionally cooked. Unlike most of my mixed cooking method dishes this one starts out in the Sun Oven, where the beans are cooked, and is finished up in a frying pan. The beans can be made ahead, while the sun’s shining. Don’t fry the patties until you’re ready to serve them.
The recipe is one from a collection of recipes that I cut out of Italian magazines over twenty years ago. I don’t use them very often, but always get a kick out of how they are written. Unlike American recipes with their precise measurements and detailed instructions, Italian recipes are more like the instructions you’d get from Grandma if you called her and asked how to make a family favorite.
Here’s the recipe as it was written:
Ingredients for 6 people:
500 gm dried beans, 1 onion, 1 celery stalk, 1 whole clove, 3 eggs, bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons grated parmesan, oil for frying.
(No mention of what kind of beans or if the onion should be quartered, chopped or sliced; same goes for the celery. And how much bread crumbs will you need? The instructions don’t help much either.)
It goes on to say:
Soak beans overnight, then simmer them with the onion, celery, clove, and the salt. (salt was not mentioned in the ingredients) Drain and mash, add 3 egg yolks (oh, the eggs need to be separated?), the cheese, and enough bread crumbs to obtain a good consistency (whatever that means). Mix well. Make patties that you will dip in the beaten egg whites and then coat with bread crumbs and fry in hot oil. Serve immediately.
So what did I do? I used cranberry beans. That’s usually what “beans” means in an Italian recipe. Then I messed up by converting 500 gm (1/2 kilo) to 1/2 pound. I didn’t catch my mistake until after I’d mixed in the three egg yolks, of course. I quartered the onion and the celery stalk and removed them, and the clove, before mashing the beans. Probably due to the fact that I only used half the amount of beans the recipe called for and all three of the eggs my mixture was a bit moist. I wound up adding 1/4 cup of bread crumbs. I assume you’d need less than that with the correct bean to egg ratio. The instructions don’t say how many, or what size patties. I got twelve good sized ones, probably about 1/4 – 1/3 cup mixture per patty. I really think the full recipe would serve at least eight people. Finally, in the picture in the magazine, and mine, you can clearly see lemon wedges. Granted, Italians always squeeze fresh lemon on deep fried foods, but it’s an important enough touch to merit at least a mention.
Here’s my updated recipe.
Pan Fried Solar Simmered Bean Patties
1 pound dry cranberry beans (or red kidney beans), picked over and rinsed
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 whole clove
3 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons bread crumbs, plus more for coating
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
vegetable oil for frying
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Soak beans in a large bowl overnight.
Place Global Sun Oven out to preheat.
Combine beans, onion, celery, and clove in a large pot. Add enough water to cover by two inches. Cover the pot and place it in the GSO. Cook until beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Drain beans, remove and discard clove. Mash bean and vegetable mixture, add salt to taste. When mixture is cool and you’re ready to fry the patties mix in the egg yolks, bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Shape bean mixture into small patties. Dip each patty in the egg whites, coat with bread crumbs and fry in batches. Drain patties on paper towels and keep warm as you continue frying. Just before serving squeeze lemon onto the warm patties. Serve with lemon wedges.