Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Perfect for Summer Grilling: Firecracker Cheeseburgers with Grilled Maui Onion-Fresno Chile Pico de Gallo

 Tomorrow is July 4th...and one thing that every holiday celebration needs is a delicious burger on the menu! That’s exactly what came to mind when my friends at Frieda’s Specialty Produce sent me some sweet Maui onions and spicy red Fresno chiles last week. I immediately knew that an original burger creation would be the perfect way to showcase these two items. Not just any burger, mind you, but a burger that truly lives up to July 4th fireworks. What I came up with is Firecracker Cheeseburgers with Grilled Maui Onion-Fresno Chile Pico de Gallo. This burger literally explodes with flavors, so the name is very fitting!

Before I give you all the details on my burger creation, I want to share a little bit of information about the onion and peppers that Frieda’s sent me. As their name says, Maui sweet onions are grown in Maui, Hawaii; they are sweet, crisp, and juicy with a mild onion flavor. Red fresno chiles look similar to their cousin, the jalapeno. However, they have a more pungent heat and a sweeter flavor..and they're a great source of vitamin C. They’re fairly spicy too...on a scale of 1-10, Fresno chiles are about a 6-7. You can use them in most recipes that call for jalapeno or Serrano chiles.

Now...about my burger creation... 

I made a spicy, colorful pico de gallo by grilling slices of Maui onion and one red Fresno chile until slightly softened and browned...I also added green onion, diced yellow and orange tomatoes for a nice color contrast, lime juice, and cilantro. Then, I made a creamy chipotle-chive cream cheese spread for the toasted buns. The burger patty is a mixture of lean ground chicken breast and spicy Mexican pork chorizo. There’s also a double shot of cheese: small pieces of sharp cheddar are mixed into the burger mixture, forming gooey pockets of cheese...and the burgers are also topped with a slice of Monterey jack cheese. The finishing touch was slices of cooling, creamy avocado. Come check out this burger...and see how easy it is to whip up!

Firecracker Cheeseburgers
with Grilled Maui Onion-Fresno Chile Pico de Gallo
a Weekend Gourmet original

Step 1: Heat an oiled cast iron grill pan over med-high heat. Add four slices Maui onion and one Fresno chile and cook until the onion has grill marks and the chile is blistering. This takes 5-6 minutes. Remove from pan; chop the onion and seed/dice the chile. Make the pico de gallo by combining the chopped onion and chile, 1 diced yellow tomato, 1 diced orange tomato, 2 sliced green onions, the juice of half a lime, 1 tsp. dried cilantro, and salt/pepper to taste.

Step 2:  Make the chipotle-chive cream cheese spread by combining the following ingredients in a small bowl: 3 ounces softened cream cheese, 1 tbs. chipotle chile puree, 1 sliced green onion, the juice of half a lime, and 1 tsp. dried cilantro. Spoon into a small crock.

Step 3: Make the burgers by combining the following ingredients in a large bowl: 1 lb. ground chicken breast mixed with 1/2 lb. bulk Mexican chorizo, 2 ounces sharp cheddar diced into small cubes, the juice of half a lime, 1 tbs. dried cilantro, 1 grated clove garlic, salt, lemon pepper, and one sliced green onion. Shape into four patties and cook in the oiled cast iron grill pan over med-high heat for 4-5 minutes on each side. Top with slices of Monterey jack cheese and continue cooking until the cheese melts.

Step 4: Assemble the burgers as follows. Spread the bottom of a toasted bun with 1/4 of the chipotle-chive cream cheese. Top with avocado slices, a burger, and 1/4 of the Maui onion-Fresno chile pico de gallo. These burgers are quite a mouthful, so I recommend cutting in half with a serrated knife before serving.

This is one firecracker of a burger...but the heat level isn't overwhelming. It’s more of a slow burn than in-your-face heat. If you prefer your food extra-fiery, add a second Fresno chile to your pico de gallo and add one diced canned chipotle pepper to the cream cheese spread. We both loved this burger: the chorizo flavors the ground chicken and keeps it juicy without making it greasy. The double shot of cheese is perfect for cheese lovers! The pico de gallo is very refreshing...sweet Maui onion and spicy Fresno chile pepper pair nicely with tangy tomatoes and lime juice. I really enjoyed the creamy texture that the cream cheese spread and avocado gave these burgers too. I simply served these amped-up burgers with tortilla chips...and ice-cold diet sodas!

I hope that you’ll give these flavorful cheeseburgers a try very soon...they’re pretty much the perfect spicy kick for any upcoming Summer cookouts on your calendar! By the way, my Texas readers can find these delicious sweet Maui onions and spicy Fresno chiles in the Produce department of your local HEB grocery store. 

Disclosure: Frieda's Specialty Produce sent me Maui onions and red Fresno chiles to facilitate this post. My comments on their flavor...and the cheeseburger recipe...are mine. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness! These burgers look just heavenly. I wish I had one for dinner tonight. Thank you for sharing. I'm enjoying my last few days on the East Coast. I hope you are doing well!


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