Green Chile Cheeseburgers
4 burgers or 8 to 10 sliders
20 to 25 minutes
In New Mexico, where this burger is ubiquitous, flat green chiles from the Hatch Valley are the first choice. They’re flavorful with mellow, herbal heat, not blow-your-head-off hot. Anaheim and poblano chiles are common replacements, though they can be milder—Hatch chiles are increasingly easy to find. But use whatever heat level you like.
Put the chiles on the grill while it heats so that they’re roasted by the time you’re ready to cook the burgers. Though it’s not traditional, I like to also add extra chili flavor to the meat. As for the cheese, American is the most common on this burger in Southwestern restaurants. But I just can’t. A sharp white cheddar, or a Mexican melting cheese like asadero or Chihuahua, is so much better.
2 Anaheim chiles 2 poblano chiles
1 1 ⁄ 2 pounds not-too-lean sirloin or chuck, cut into 1-inch chunks, or good-quality preground beef
1 ⁄ 2 white onion, cut into chunks (optional)
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 ounces grated or thinly sliced cheese (see the headnote)
4 hamburger buns, split, or 8–10 slider buns (like potato or dinner rolls)
1. Start the coals or heat a gas grill for hot direct cooking. Make sure the grates are clean. Put the chiles on the grill directly over the fire as it heats up. Roast the chiles until they are blackened on all sides. Transfer to a bowl and put a plate or lid over it.
2. If grinding your own, put the meat and white onion, if you’re using it, in a food processor; work in batches if your machine is small. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the chili powder and pulse until coarsely ground—finer than chopped, but not much. (If you’re starting with preground meat, mince the onion and incorporate it into the meat.)
3. Cook up a spoonful in a small skillet to taste it; adjust the seasoning. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compressing it, shape it lightly into 4 burgers, 1 to 1 1 ⁄2 inches thick, or 8 to 10 sliders.
4. When the chiles are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and cut of the stems. You can seed them or leave the seeds in for some extra heat. Chop the chiles. (You can form the burgers and prepare the chiles several hours in advance; keep separate, cover, and refrigerate.)
5. Put the burgers on the grill directly over the fire. Close the lid and cook, turning once, until one stage shy of the doneness you want them, 3 to 7 minutes per side, depending on their size and how well done you want them; the carryover heat will finish the job. (Nick with a small knife and peek inside.) For the last minute or so, divide the chiles between the burgers and top with cheese.
6. Transfer to a platter. Put the buns cut side down on the grill to toast. Serve the burgers on the toasted buns.
Molten Blue Cheese Burgers
Get your cheese fix from the inside out: Omit the chiles and chili powder. In Step 3, form each burger around a 1-inch chunk of blue cheese.
Take your burger for a Southern stroll: Omit the chiles and chili powder. Instead of the grated or sliced cheese, combine 1 ⁄ 2 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese and 1 ⁄ 4 cup mayonnaise. Drain half of a 4-ounce jar of pimentos and add them along with 1⁄4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce and a little salt and pepper. Top each burger with a dollop of pimento cheese when it comes of the grill.
A decadent mess: Omit the chiles and chili powder, and use thinly sliced Swiss cheese. Whisk together 6 tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons each ketchup and chopped dill pickle, and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Drain about 1 cup sauerkraut. After you turn the burgers, top each with several tablespoons of the sauerkraut, then a slice of Swiss. Finish the burgers with a dollop of the dressing.