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04/24/2015

~ Chili Cheddar Cheeseburgers w/Chile-Lime Mayo ~

IMG_6481For 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!

PICT0033When 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

IMG_6425A 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.

IMG_6398Meet 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.

PICT0008For the cheeseburgers:

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

IMG_6378~ Step 1.  Prep and place all of the ingredients in a large bowl as you work.  Thoroughly combine the mixture -- the best way to do this is with your hands.

~ Step 2.  Using a kitchen scale as a measure, form meat mixture into 12, 8-ounce balls, placing them IMG_6381on a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan lined with parchment paper.

IMG_6390~ Step 3. Using a 4" ring mold, press into 4"-round, 1"-thick discs. Cover & refrigerate 2-24 hours. 

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.

IMG_64022  cups mayonnaise

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

PICT0031~ 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

PICT0044crisp lettuce leaves, romaine or iceberg

Hass avocado slices

thinly-sliced onion, red or yellow

tomato slices 

~ 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

IMG_6407~ 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.  

IMG_6419~ 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...

IMG_6551... that gets spicier and drippier with every flavor-packed bite!

IMG_6510Chili Cheddar Cheeseburgers w/Chile-Lime Mayo:  Recipe yields 12, 8-ounce cheeseburgers and 3 generous cups chile-lime mayo.

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

IMG_2481 6a0120a8551282970b017d4140e28d970cCook'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) 

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