There are a few dishes that, come summertime, my family very much likes to have me cook up. By “family” I mean family of origin – plus additions – in Minnesota, not just my dashing husband and young son in San Francisco. Turkey tacos are always a hit, as is any grilled meat affair. For the fourth, though, we kept it simple and I made much loved green chile cheeseburgers. The great thing about these burgers is you can cook them well done and they’re still juicy and moist and delicious. How is that possible? From the grated cheese that is inside the burger. It is mixed in, along with chopped roasted green chile. I developed them when I was still at Sunset for a whole hamburger heaven spread. I developed quite a few recipes for that story. These are the only ones I ever make.
Green chile cheeseburgers
Handle the meat as little as possible to keep the final burgers as tender as possible. Cook over truly high heat. Flip only once and, for the love of god, don’t press down on the burgers with a spatula while they’re cooking! What is that? Why would a person press all the juice out of the burger?
Experience tells that this recipes easily halves or doubles.
2 or 3 large mild green chiles (like poblanos)
3 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons sea salt
Get the grill going. Char the chiles, turning to brown/blacken them evenly. Take the chiles off the grill and let them sit 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the skin (it should slip off easily), stems, and seeds and finely chop the chiles.
Note: the chiles can also be charred over a gas flame or under a broiler if you want to prepare the burgers ahead of time.
Put the ground beef in a large bowl and gently break it up with your hands. Add chiles, cheese, and salt. Use your hands to gently mix to combine. Divide meat evenly into 8 chunks. Gently pat each chunk into a burger about 3/4-inch thick at the edges, making a slight dimple or dip in the middle of each patty. Put the patties on a baking sheet, cover, and keep chilled until ready to cook.
Make sure the fire on the grill is hot. You should only be able to hold your hand about an inch over the cooking grate for a second before pulling it away. Put the burgers on – they should sizzle immediately – and cook without turning or pressing or messing with them in any way until they have grill marks and well browned edges on one side, 4 to 6 minutes. Flip them over and cook until grill marked on the other side and cooked to your liking. For me it’s another 5 minutes or so. Remember, these burgers are designed to be delicious even though fully cooked, but if you want to keep things less than fully cooked please, I beg of you, please grind your own meat or make sure you know where and when it was ground. Actually, no matter what please look into that last item. Commercial ground beef can be some vile stuff.
Serve on a bun, with the condiments and fixings you like. A good burger, in my opinion, can be kept very simple and, as you can see, that’s how I eat mine. You and your burger? That’s your business.