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Nacogdoches Pimento Cheese-Burger with Bacon & Chayote Grapefruit-Avocado Slaw

I am always drawn to recipes that reflect where the recipe creator is from, so I decided to follow that mode when I invented this burger. I just moved to East Texas (Nacogdoches—know as the “oldest town in Texas”) last summer and, before then, I had never tried the Southern specialty “pimento cheese.” I love it (I am a huge cheese fan), and decided to make it a starting point for my burger. I have taken some liberties with my “pimento cheese” here, using fresh grilled roasted poblanos in place of jarred pimentos, a bit of chipotle chile pepper in place of paprika, and smoked Cheddar in place of regular Cheddar cheese--but I think it works, deliciously. The rest of the burger was inspired by a range of other East Texas ingredients: Texas sweet onions, super-sweet ruby red Texas grapefruits, fresh chorizo, Jacksonville tomatoes, thick-cut bacon, incredibly fresh avocados, chiles, chayote and fresh cilantro, and, of course, great beef (this is cattle country!). There just seems to be something joyful in using locally available ingredients to cook, so this burger was a lot of fun in the making.

Ingredients 

(1) 2 medium poblano chiles (about 6 ounces total)
(2) 8 ounces smoked Cheddar cheese, finely grated
(3) 1/4 cup good quality jarred mayonnaise
(4) 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
(5) Salt to taste
(6) 1 and 2/3 pounds ground chuck
(7) 1/2 pound fresh chorizo
(8) 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
(9) 3/4 cup chopped (drained) sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
(10) 1/2 cup grated sweet onion (e.g., Texas Sweet)
(4) 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
(11) 1 teaspoon ground cumin
(5) 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
(12) 1 large ruby red grapefruit
(13) 2 medium, firm-ripe California Haas avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, diced
(14) 2 cups chayote squash that have been peeled, seeded, cut into fine julienne (Note: seedless, peeled cucumber may be substituted if chayote is unavailable)
(9) 1/4 cup minced sweet onion (e.g., Texas Sweet)
(7) 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
(11) 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
(5) Salt to taste
(15) 12 slices thick-cut black pepper bacon (Note: regular thick-cut bacon can be substituted)
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil for brushing grill rack
(16) 6 good-quality onion roll hamburger buns

Instructions 

Prepare gas grill to high heat. Char poblano chiles over grill until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Peel and seed chiles; let cool. Chop the chiles and transfer to medium bowl. Add the cheese, mayonnaise and 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder to bowl. Mash mixture with fork until relatively smooth. (It should be flecked with small pieces of the poblanos.) Season with salt to taste. Cover until ready to use. Turn grill down to medium-high heat. In a large bowl combine chuck, chorizo, 1/3 cup cilantro, sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2 cup grated sweet onion, 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt, handling as little as possible, until combined. Shape into six patties to fit bun size. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Grate 1 teaspoon zest from the grapefruit and set aside. Cut off remaining peel and pith with knife. Working over a medium bowl, cut grapefruit between membranes with a small sharp knife to release segments and their juices into the bowl. Remove segments and dice; return to bowl of juices along with the zest, avocados, chayote, 1/4 cup minced sweet onion, 2 tablespoons cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Toss to combine. Season with salt to taste. Loosely cover with plastic wrap until ready to use. Heat heavy large nonstick skillet on the medium-high heat grill. Cook the bacon in skillet until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Wrap bacon in foil to keep warm. Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the burger patties on the grill rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5-6 minutes on each side for medium. Spread a generous dollop of cheese mixture on burgers during last 2 minutes of grilling, closing lid to promote melting. Also place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the grill rack to toast lightly during last 2 minutes of grilling. To assemble the burgers, place a cheese-topped burger patty on bun bottom, followed by 2 bacon slices, and an equal portion of slaw. Add the bun tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers.