Sunday, June 23, 2013

Kicking Off Grilling Week With a Weekend Gourmet Flashback: Firecracker Cheeseburgers with Grilled Maui Onion-Fresno Chile Pico de Gallo

It's hard to believe, but July 4th is coming up soon...the year is flying by so quickly! I'm going to be featuring lots of recipes  between now and then that will be perfect for your holiday celebrations -- everything from Summer cocktails, to desserts, and burgers. I'm kicking off Grilling Week here at The Weekend Gourmet with one of my favorite recipes from last Summer, my Firecracker Cheeseburgers with Grilled Maui Onion-Fresno Chile Pico de Gallo. This burger literally explodes with flavors, so the name is very fitting! I made this burger as part of my ongoing partnership with Frieda's Produce last July, and they liked it so much that they've featured it on their website. This burger is bursting with spicy flavors, so I couldn't resist sharing it again! 

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 a  well-oiled grill pan over med-high heat. Add four thick slices of Maui onion and one Fresno chile; cook until the onion has grill marks and the chile is blistering. This takes approx. 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 and seeded yellow tomato, 1 diced and seeded 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 creamy chipotle-chive cream cheese spread by combining the following ingredients in a small bowl: 3 ounces softened whipped cream cheese, 1 tbs. chipotle chile puree (from a can of chipotles), 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 or turkey 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 patty, 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 burger is an explosion of flavors in your mouth...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, simply add a second Fresno chile to your pico de gallo and add one diced canned chipotle pepper to the cream cheese spread. Michael declared this burger a keeper: The chorizo flavors the ground chicken and keeps it juicy without making it greasy. The double shot of cheese ensures gooey, cheesy goodness in every bite.  The pico de gallo is very refreshing...sweet Maui onion and spicy Fresno chile pepper work nicely with the tangy tomatoes and lime juice. I really enjoyed the creamy texture and cooling effect that the cream cheese spread and avocado gave these burgers too. 

These burgers are hearty and filling, so keep your sides simple. We enjoy them with chips and fresh Summer-sweet corn on the cob. Oh yes...lots of ice-cold lemonade, soda or beer too! I hope that you’ll give my spicy-good cheeseburgers a try very soon...they’re pretty much the perfect spicy kick for any upcoming Summer cookouts on your calendar! 

Disclosure: Frieda's Produce sent me Maui onions and Fresno chiles last July to facilitate the creation of this burger. The recipe is my own creation, and all opinions expressed are my own!

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