Recipe courtesy of Bob Trinchero

Southwest "Chili" Burgers with Avocado Crema and Lime-Marinated Slaw

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 20 min
  • Prep: 1 hr
  • Cook: 20 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Tom Wickham, Portland, OR


1/4 head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)

1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

1 bunch fresh cilantro, leavesfinely chopped

1 lime, juiced

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper

Chile Rojo:

1 dried ancho chile and 1 dried pasilla chile, seeded, stemmed, and soaked in warm water for at

least 30 minutes, or 4 tablespoons good-quality ground chile powder

1/2 to 1 minced fresh jalapeno chile pepper

1/4 cup minced onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup hearty red wine (like Zinfindel or Cabernet Sauvignon), plus more if needed

Burger Patties:

2 pounds freshly ground beef (*see cook's note below)

6 tablespoons Chili Rojo, recipe follows

Salt and pepper

Avocado Crema:

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 jalapeno chile pepper, finely minced, optional

1/4 cup minced red bell pepper

1 lime, zested

1 lime, juiced

1 large ripe tomato or 2 Roma tomatoes, diced

Salt and pepper

To assemble:

6 (1-ounce) slices sharp Cheddar

6 good-quality soft hamburger buns

1/3 cup of remaining Chili Rojo, recipe follows, mixed with 1/2 cup ketchup


To make the slaw: mix all the slaw ingredients together. Set aside for at least 30 minutes to let flavors meld.

Prepare charcoal grill for medium-hot direct-heat cooking.

To make the Chili Rojo: add all chili ingredients, except extra wine, to a blender or food processor. Puree thoroughly, using extra wine if necessary to make a thick, smooth sauce.

To make the burger patties: take 6 tablespoons ground beef and mix with 6 tablespoons Chile Rojo. Make 6 equal hand-formed patties with the remaining ground beef. Place 2 tablespoons of the chile mixture onto the center of each patty. Carefully enclose each patty around the chile mixture to form a ball. Carefully flatten each ball back into a thick patty, keeping the chile mixture inside. Season the patties liberally with salt and pepper.

To make the Crema: mash the avocados in a food processor or with a potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients and fold gently until thoroughly mixed.

When the grill is hot, oil the grill rack and cook the burgers over a medium-high flame until done, about 3 minutes per side for medium rare. If the exterior of the patties begins to burn, move them to a cooler side of the grill until the centers have had a chance to cook. Add a slice of cheese to each patty about 1 minute before they are done. Let patties rest off the heat for 1 or 2 minutes after cooking, and meanwhile toast the buns on a cooler side of the grill.

To assemble the burgers: spread each bun bottom with a layer of Avocado Crema. Add about 1/3 cup slaw, a patty with melted cheese, then a tablespoon of chili ketchup, and finally the bun top.

Cook’s Note

I like the "whole cow" approach to ground beef and use 2 parts chuck to 1 part rib meat to 1 part sirloin or round. This gives the mixture a variety of texture and beefy flavor. If you are limited in choices, chuck is by far the best meat for grinding and for burgers.

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