By Gwyneth Doland
In New Mexico, a hamburger isn't worth eating until it's crowned with strips of freshly roasted green chile and gooey melted cheese. In late summer and early fall, when the chiles harvest comes in and vendors set up gas-fired roasters in dirt lots and grocery store parking lots, the sweet, pungent aroma of green chile fills the air and tells us: It's time to make green chile cheeseburgers!
The ultimate green chile cheeseburger is cooked over a hot charcoal fire. I like to add a couple of small chunks of pecan or mesquite wood to the lump charcoal in my grill. The wood infuses the meat with a slightly smoky flavor that's a perfect match for the roasted green chile.
This is a simple recipe, so the ingredients really matter; Using freshly ground beef makes a difference you can taste. Ground chuck that's 85 percent lean delivers excellent flavor and the coarse grind helps keep the patty from becoming too dense. Ask your butcher to coarsely grind some chuck for you, or do it yourself at home with a meat grinder.
To get the most out of the experience you can roast your own fresh green chiles on the grill before cooking the burgers. Pick a handful of long, tapered green chiles (called New Mexico or Anaheim peppers at the market), put them on the grill grate over a hot fire and turn them with tongs until they're lightly charred all over. Put the chiles in a stainless steel bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let the chiles steam for a few minutes. When they're cool enough to handle, simply wipe the charred skins off.
The flavor of freshly roasted green chiles mingling with a charcoal grilled burger is what we love about New Mexico, and it's what keeps visitors coming back again and again.
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh, coarsely ground chuck (85 percent lean)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 soft buns
- 4 roasted and peeled green chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut into strips
- 4 slices American cheese
- Iceberg lettuce leaves
- Tomato slices
- Optional: ketchup, mustard and/or mayonnaise
Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium hot.
In a large bowl, combine the ground beef with salt and pepper and gently form the mixture into 4 wide, flat patties. Do not squash the patties!
Grill the burgers until they reach the desired level of doneness. On a cooler part of the grill, brown the buns slightly.
When the burgers are almost ready, top them with the green chile strips and American cheese slices, allowing the cheese to melt. Arrange the diced tomato and shredded lettuce on the bottom buns, then top with the burgers.
Serve with homemade french fries.