Living in New Mexico, a good green chile burger is at least as important as boots or a hat to a Texan. A lot of considerations come into play when making one. Do you cook on wood, charcoal (if so lump or briquette?) or gas? What do you use for burger meat? What chile and how to prepare it? What cheese. What bun? (I’m not even going to talk about what to drink with it.) When you put it all together it can be pretty special.
This is how I go about putting together my favorite cheeseburger. I grill on a mostly charcoal fire. Right now I have some good oak that I use to hold the fire in. When I build a good charcoal fire I like it to be hot and contained. The oak contains it and adds a bit of smokiness not too overstated. The heat does the cooking. It takes about 20 minutes to get the coals hot (mostly gray and white). I use a chimney starter – no fluid. If you want to accelerate the starter, soak the newspaper in a bit of vegetable oil.
While the fire is getting ready bake your French fries. A half pound of new potatoes scrubbed and cut into quarter- inch square strips, tossed with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic and baked for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
I’m fussy about burger meat. When I can get over there I get it from Kaune’s Market. a local store in Santa Fe. They have an old fashioned butcher department with true ground chuck ( 85 percent meat). They don’t plump it up with water. Just sayin’. Divide the meat into equal portions and shape into patties without overworking the meat. I like half pound burgers. Rub each side with Tamari and generously grate black pepper on both sides of each burger. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
Allow a half inch thick slice of sweet onion for each burger. (Walla Walla is the best when you can get it. Red onion works well, too.) For the green chile, if you can get poblano pepper that works the best. For more heat use a jalapeno. I cut slabs about two inches by three inches. For the bun, any good quality burger bun works well. When I want it to be extra special I get the large ciabatta dinner rolls that Whole Foods sells in their bakery section.
Now, let’s cook. Once the fire is ready, toast the buns (insides only). Once they are brown take them off. Put the onion slices and slabs of poblano on the grill for five minutes. Turn and cook for five more minutes.
Put those to the side and put the burgers on the grill. Cook for two minutes. Turn 90 degrees, and cook for two more minutes. Flip put the cheese on and cook for two more minutes. Turn 90 degrees, and cook for two more minutes. Take it off the grill. Put it on the bun with the onion and chile and add a generous helping of fries to the plate. Take a moment of silence…