~ Chili Cheddar Cheeseburgers w/Chile-Lime Mayo ~
For me, the only thing that tastes better than a thick, juicy hamburger hot-off-the-gill is: a thick, juicy cheeseburger, hot-off-the grill. I don't grill enough to profess to being an expert, but the stuff I do grill is mighty tasty. I'm cooking these to please me today -- they're my favorite twist on traditional cheeseburgers. I'm mixing the cheese into the burgers instead of placing it on top of them, and, I'm packing the mixture full of bold, spicy, American-Southwest Tex-Mex flavors. Admittedly, it's unorthodox, but, I've been told, often by the critics themselves, "this is one of the best cheeseburgers I've ever tasted". Moral of story: Don't knock it until YOU'VE tried it!
When it comes to all recipes that require using an outdoor gas grill, the hands-on cooking instructions (time and temperature) should be used as guidelines. We own three gas grills, a Viking, a Weber, and, a Solaire. Recipe testing on each has taught me that brands vary greatly. Combine that with outdoor temperature and desired doneness, then, factor in cut, thickness and weight of product -- it's impossible to write a precise grilling recipe.
Part One: Making the Chili Cheddar Cheeseburgers
A bit about this recipe: It makes a lot -- 12, 8-ounce cheeseburgers. It's my go-to cheeseburger recipe for tailgates and holidays like Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor day -- times when I'm entertaining hungry family and friends. Want less? Do the math -- cut the recipe in half.
Meet a special ingredient that I feature in these burgers (and pretty much every recipe I make using chile powder): Santa Fe Seasons Chile Blend. It's an all natural mixture of dried New Mexico red chili powder, herbs and spices (no salt). Feel free to substitute a 1:1 ratio of Mexican-style chili powder mixed with Mexican-style oregano for this blend, but, if you'd like to experience something super-special, pick up a jar of the blend: it's available on amazon.com.
5 pounds ground beef (85/15)
1 pound Monterey Jack w/jalapeno pepper cheddar
2 cups diced yellow onion
2 cups minced, fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons Santa Fe Seasons Chile Blend
1 tablespoon each: sea salt and coarsely-ground black pepper
Part Two: Making the Chile-Lime Mayonnaise
A bit about this recipe: Consider this all-purpose condiment your Tex-Mex version of French aioli (a strongly-flavored garlic mayonnaise hailing from Provence). Besides being great on my cheeseburgers, I love it slathered on chicken sandwiches, and, used as a dip for vegetables.
1 1/2-2 cups minced, fresh cilantro (Note: Since the cilantro is going to be processed, including more stem in your minced cilantro than you normally would in other recipes is just fine.)
1 12-ounce jar sliced, pickled jalapenos, well-drained
1 large lime, all of its zest and all of its juice (Note: You want to add 2 tablespoons lime juice. If the lime is not particularly juicy, make up the difference with bottled concentrate.)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
~ Step 1. Place all ingredients in work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. With motor running, process until smooth, 30-45 seconds. Transfer to a food storage container and refrigerate 2-24 hours, and, up to one week.
Note: This mayonnaise thickens as it chills, and, its flavor intensifies if the flavors are given time to marry, so, if you have the time to make it a day in advance, do it!
Part Three: Optional Cheeseburger Toppings
Hass avocado slices
thinly-sliced onion, red or yellow
~ Step 1. Just prior to grilling the cheeseburgers, prep all or none of the above as directed and refrigerate until serving time.
Part Four: Grilling the Cheeseburgers
~ Step 1. Remove burgers from the refrigerator and return to room temperature prior to preheating gas grill to medium-high. Just prior to grilling the burgers, using your fingertips, press down on each one again, flattening a bit more, to form 12, 4 1/2" round 3/4"-thick discs.
Note: This last press allows for shrinkage as the burgers cook. Each finished burger will fit perfectly on a standard hamburger roll.
~ Step 5. Grill over direct heat, about 8-10 minutes per side, turning only once (8 minutes for medium-rare, 10 minutes for well-done. Remove from heat and serve on your favorite rolls (lightly-toasted or not, your choice) drizzled with chili-lime mayo and your favorite toppings (or none at all).
Nothin' fancy, just-a-lotta easy-to-make fun-on-a-bun...
Special Equipment List: cheese grater; cutting board; chef's knife; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; kitchen scale; 4"-round ring mold (optional); plastic wrap; food processor; microplane grater; rubber spatula; 4-cup food storage container; gas grill or your favorite charcoal grill, used according to manufacturer's specifications; long-handled grilling spatula
Cook's Note: Click into Categories 13, 15 or 16 to learn more about: ~ Is it spelled chile or chili? It is NOT a regional thing! ~, and, ~ The great oregano debate: Mediterranean Oregano vs. Mexican Oregano. Is there a difference? Yes! ~.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/2015)