Friday, August 24, 2012

Pan-Fried Hatch Green Chile Burgers

Pan-Fried Hatch Green Chile Burgers |

It's nearing late August, which means: HATCH CHILE SEASON. Depending on what region you hail from, you may never have heard of a Hatch chile. 

In case you haven't, here's a brief run down of the Hatch green chile:
  • Hatch is not a variety; it indicates the origin of the chile. So, the name comes from the village it's grown near: Hatch, New Mexico. 
  • These regional chiles are harvested only once a year and the picking season usually goes from August through September. It can sometimes begin earlier in July and extend into October. 
  • The spiciness of Hatch chiles (there are different varieties) range from very mild to much hotter, similar in heat level to a jalapeno. I've only seen them sold as either "mild" or "hot", but you honestly can't predict how spicy each individual pepper will be until you cut into it. 
  • Green chiles have thick skins that make them ideal for roasting, which intensifies their flavor and produces a unique aroma. 
  • Because their season is so short, most people roast large batches of the chiles, leave the skin intact and freeze them in plastic bags to use in recipes throughout the year.
  • Alternatively, cans of fire roasted Hatch green chiles are sold at grocery stores year round. Some of you in the northern and eastern regions may not have access to fresh Hatch chiles. Luckily, I've only ever lived in Kansas, Missouri and Texas, which is close enough to New Mexico that they're shipped to our local markets. That said, I've still been using the canned variety for years (they're great in scrambled eggs), so if you can't get fresh hatch chiles, definitely used canned! However, if you have time to roast and freeze your own, the flavor will be exponentially better. Plus, your house/apartment will smell divine!

Fresh Hatch Green Chiles |
Now that I've explained a few basic things, lets take a gander at the chile. At first sight, these lovelies look like a cross between a jalapeno and a poblano, but if you're more familiar with chiles (a.k.a. peppers), you'll notice they look most similar to Anaheim chiles. Anaheims are named after their location (Anaheim, CA), but they originated from New Mexico, just like the Hatch chile.  

Despite their mildness, they have a wonderful flavor that's amplified by roasting until the skins are blistered and charred black. It's the most popular method for preparing green chiles before incorporating them into dishes; however, they're also tasty without the char, like in my recipe below for Pan Fried Burgers. 

Green Chiles pair well with an endless number of ingredients and during Hatch Chile Season, you'll often find an exotic array of foods that incorporate this seasonal chile. Try looking at speciality grocery stores and you'll see what I mean. The fact that this one seasonal ingredient spawns so many creative recipes is a testament to its greatness. 

What also helps is its affordability. Typically ranging from 99 cents to $1.99 a pound, the average person can experiment hog-wild without denting their budget. I nabbed some for 69 cents a pound. Crazy cheap!

That said, I'll more than likely be creating several posts centered on a different hatch chile recipe, so keep on the lookout for those in the near future. For now, here's the meatlicious burger recipe.

Pan-Fried Hatch Green Chile Burgers
Pan-fried grass-fed beef with seasonal flavorings like hatch green chiles and cilantro, heart healthy avocado and cilantro-lime aioli yields a juicy, satisfying burger with complimentary flavors.
Serves: 2

*I made two 1/2 lb. burgers because I used 90% lean grass-fed beef. Feel free to make three or four patties out of the pound of meat if you want to stretch your dollar further. Also, grass fed beef tends to shrink a bit more than regular corn-fed beef, so keep that in mind when portioning the patties.

1 pound of grass-fed ground beef
2 hatch chile peppers (mild or hot), stemmed, seeded and diced (if it's not hatch chile season--sub poblano or jalapeno chiles)
1/2 yellow onion, diced finely
2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp New Mexico chili powder* 
Sea salt (I recommend Pink HimalayanCeltic or Utah sourced salt)
Cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp + 1/4 tsp lime juice 
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
1/2 heirloom tomato, sliced thickly
1/2 of a large avocado or 1 small avocado, pitted, skinned and sliced
2 tbsp organic cilantro, chopped
2 shakes of hot pepper sauce
2 tbsp Cilantro Lime Mayonnaise, optional
2 palmfuls of spring mix, arugula or spinach
2 buns of your choice
*I use Valle del Sol Chili Powder. This spice blend has dried New Mexico chiles, as well as cumin, dehydrated garlic, oregano, coriander, cloves and allspice. So, if you only have a chili (or chile) powder with no other seasonings mixed in, try adding a pinch or two of these other spices or leave them out. It shouldn't make a huge difference.

Recommended Equipment
cast-iron skillet
rubber gloves (to keep the chile oils off your hands)

  1. Place the pound of grass fed beef into a large mixing bowl; leave it be for now.
  2. Coat your hands liberally with cooking oil or put on a pair of discardable gloves. THIS STEP IS NECESSARY for contact with any chile pepper. If you disregard it, you may get chile oil on your hands, which causes them to burn. I speak from experience. It's not worth it. 
  3. Cut off & discard the stem (top) of each chile and slice vertically down one side of the chile. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and inner membranes. Dice the rest and toss it into the bowl with the beef. Don't mix yet.
  4. Throw away gloves or if using oil as a barrier, thoroughly wash hands, as well as your cutting board and knife. 
  5. Peel and chop 1/2 an onion, dicing it finely (not quite a mince). Add to mixing bowl.
  6. Measure out cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, 1 Tbsp lime juice and add to the bowl. Sprinkle salt and grind pepper onto the mixture to taste. (Don't literally taste it now...just season it to your liking.)
  7. Using your hands, mix the seasonings, chiles and onion into the meat, making sure to incorporate it evenly throughout. Don't overwork the meat, only until everything is mixed. We're not giving it a massage here. ;)
  8. Divide the mixture in half and shape each half into a ball, then flatten to desired thickness. Press two fingers into the middle of each patty, creating an indention. This will prevent the burgers from becoming too round during cooking. 
  9. Heat a cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet to medium heat, drizzle pan with 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil and place patties inside. Cook to your desired level of doneness, flipping the patties half way through the cooking process. I recommend an internal temperature of at least 130-135 degrees. I usually cook mine to 145-150 degrees, but I like my burgers more done.
  10. While burgers are cooking, cut tomato into thick slices and chop cilantro leaves. Cut avocado in half, throw away pit and use a spoon to scoop out the avocado flesh. Slice the avocado. Use this time to make the cilantro-lime mayonnaise (optional- see link to recipe above).
  11. Remove burgers from pan and while they're resting, heat the broiler to high and lightly toast both sides of your bread. 
  12. Spread 1/2 a tbsp of cilantro-lime mayonnaise (optional) on the top & bottom piece of bread. Layer bottom piece of bread with a palmful of spring mix, then a burger patty. Top burger with a slice of tomato, half of the avocado slices and cilantro. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add two dashes of hot sauce and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of lime juice. Place the other piece of bread on top. Repeat with the other burger(s). 
Notes & Tips
If you want to roast your chiles before adding them to the ground beef that would be extra delicious, but it's not necessary. Check out my post for how to properly roast a green chile.

If you're interested, visit the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to find out why I only eat grass-fed ground beef and the Global Animal Partnership for information on the Five-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards. 

I'd like to hear from YOU!

What's your favorite way to eat Hatch green chiles? 

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I ONLY recommend helpful products that I myself would use. And I'm really picky about what I share with you guys. Because I myself am super choosy about what I buy and consume. Recommending products that I love or want to own helps me cover the costs of running this blog and keep providing you with free, helpful information. And it costs nothing extra for you. Thanks!

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