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Roasted Serrano Chili Burger with Onion Relish

This Latin American inspired and flavored burger although appearing complicated is actually quite simple to make.

Ingredients 

Herbed Oil
2 tablespoons finely minced loosely packed fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground, coarsely ground black peppercorns
2 cups Colavita extra virgin olive oil
Serrano Chili Sauce
1 pound tomatillos, husked and halved
2 pounds tomatoes, halved
2 pounds sweet white onion, sliced ½” thick
1 pound red bell pepper
2 Serrano chilies, stems removed
4 large cloves of garlic
Onion Relish
3 tablespoons Colavita extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds sweet white onion, julienned thinly
1 pound red bell pepper, stems, cores, seeds and ribs removed then julienned thinly
3 Serrano chilies, stems, seeds and ribs removed then julienned thinly
2 teaspoons coarse salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground, coarsely ground black peppercorns
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon premium honey
Patties
1 cup finely minced sweet white onion
½ cup finely minced red bell pepper
2 Serrano chilies, stems removed and finely minced
2 ½ tablespoons finely minced loosely packed fresh cilantro
2 ½ tablespoons finely minced fresh oregano
3 tablespoons finely minced garlic
3 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground, coarsely ground black peppercorns
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 pounds freshly ground, ground chuck (ask butcher for 24% fat content)
Vegetable oil for grill to prevent sticking
6 slices Monterey Jack cheese (ask deli for medium thickness)
6 Ciabatta rolls, cut in half widthwise
12 slices tomatoes (sliced thinly)

Instructions 

To Make the Herbed Oil: In the pitcher of a blender, place the 2 tablespoons finely minced and loosely packed fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano, 2 teaspoons coarse salt, and the 1 teaspoon of freshly ground, coarsely ground black peppercorns. Place the cover on the pitcher and turn the blender on puree. Slowly add the 2 cups of Colavita extra virgin olive oil and continue blending until all of the contents are emulsified. Pour ½ cup of the herbed oil into a small bowl (to be used for the patties), and pour the remainder of the emulsified oil into a separate bowl (to be used with the grilled vegetables and Ciabatta rolls). Set aside. To Make the Serrano Chili Sauce: Preheat the gas grill to 450°. Brush the husked and halved tomatillos with the herbed oil. Place the oiled tomatillos onto a 16” x 12” grilling grid, oiled side down. Place the grilling grid directly onto the grill of the gas grill. Allow to cook for 7-10 minutes until the skins begin to blacken. Brush the remaining sides with the herbed oil and turn the tomatillos onto their sides and allow the skins to lightly blacken, turning the tomatillos every 2 minutes until the skins are blistered. Be careful not to burn the vegetables. Remove from the heat and place into a large 8 quart stainless steel bowl. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and allow to steam. Brush the halved tomatoes with the herbed oil and place them onto the grilling grid (oiled side down) and allow them to cook 7-10 minutes. Remove the tomato halves from the grid and place them in the bowl with the tomatillos, remembering to recover the bowl with aluminum foil. Brush the onion slices with herbed oil and place them on the grid and allow them to cook for an additional 5-8 minutes, turn them over and brush them with the herbed oil. Allow them to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Once they begin to blacken, remove the onion slices and add them to the bowl with the tomatoes, recovering the bowl with the aluminum foil. Place the 1 pound of whole red bell peppers directly onto the grill. Allow the bell peppers to grill until their skins begin to blister, approximately 2-3 minutes, then turn. Continue until all of the bell pepper sides are blistered. Remove the aluminum foil from the stainless steel bowl and add the bell peppers. Recover the bowl and let sit. Place the 2 Serrano chilies and the 4 large cloves of garlic onto a 7/8” metal skewer. Brush both sides of the Serrano chilies and garlic with the herbed oil. Place the skewer onto the grilling grid and let grill for 2-4 minutes until the skin begins to blacken then flip the skewer and grill the other side until the skin begins to blacken. Remove the aluminum foil from the stainless steel bowl and add the chilies and the garlic to the rest of the ingredients. Recover the bowl and let stand 10 minutes. Remove the grid from the grill and close the grill lid to preserve the heat. Uncover the bowl and using a paring knife, carefully remove the skins from the tomatoes and the bell pepper. Discard the skins. Cut the bell peppers in half and remove the seeds, core and ribs then cut the peppers into quarters. For extreme “heat” leave the Serrano chilies whole. For less heat, slice the chilies in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and ribs. Place the tomatillos, onion slices, tomato halves, bell peppers, Serrano chilies and the roasted garlic plus any liquid from the stainless steel bowl into the pitcher of a blender (will require dividing) and puree until smooth. Continue until all of the grilled vegetable are pureed and thoroughly mixed. Place into an acid proof bowl, cover with aluminum foil and set aside until needed. To Make the Onion Relish: Place a 14” heavy gauge (18/10) stainless steel wok onto the gas grill and heat the 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until almost smoking. Add the 2 pounds of julienned sweet white onion, 1 pound of julienned red bell pepper, 3 julienned Serrano chilies, 2 teaspoons of coarse salt and the ½ teaspoon of freshly ground, coarsely ground black peppercorns, stirring until well mixed. Stirring frequently, cook the onion mixture until the onions begin to caramelize, approximately 8-10 minutes. Add the 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and 1 tablespoon of honey, stirring until well combined. Cook, stirring constantly 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the onion mixture into a bowl. Set aside until needed. To Make The Patties: In a large 6 quart mixing bowl, mix together the 1 cup of finely minced sweet white onion, ½ cup of finely minced red bell pepper, 2 finely minced Serrano chilies, 2 ½ tablespoons finely minced and loosely packed fresh cilantro, 2 ½ tablespoons finely minced fresh oregano, 3 tablespoons finely minced garlic, 3 teaspoons coarse salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground, coarsely ground black peppercorns, and the 3 tablespoons tomato paste, stirring until all are well combined. Add the freshly ground, ground chuck and handling the meat as little as possible, gently fold together the meat with the other ingredients until all are well combined. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. To Grill the Patties: Divide the meat into 6 equal portions and gently form the meat into patties that are approximately the size and shape of the Ciabatta rolls and that are ½” to ¾” thick. Do not over compress the meat. Generously brush the preheated (450°) gas grill with the vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Lightly brush the patties with the ½ cup of reserved herbed oil. Place the patties on the oiled grill and cook 10 minutes then turn them, lightly brush them with the herbed oil and cook for 8 minutes. Place one slice of Monterey Jack cheese on each patty and close the lid of the grill for 1-2 minutes to allow the cheese to melt. The internal temperature of the patties should be 160° for medium doneness. Remove the cooked burgers from the grill and place them on a baking sheet. Carefully cover the burgers with aluminum foil without allowing the foil to touch the cheese and let them rest for 5 minutes. Lightly brush the interior side of each slice of Ciabatta roll with the herbed oil (do not use the herbed oil or brush that was used on the patties). Place the rolls, oil side down on the grill and allow them to toast for 2 minutes until lightly toasted with grill marks. Remove the rolls from the grill and set aside. To Assemble the Burgers: Place the bottom portion of the Ciabatta roll onto a serving plate. Spread 1 ½ heaping tablespoons of the Serrano chili sauce evenly over the surface of the roll. Add the cooked patty to the top of the Serrano chili sauce, place 2 slices of tomatoes on top of the patty then top the tomatoes with ½ cup of the onion relish and finally cover the onion relish with the top portion of the Ciabatta roll. Skewer the burger with a wooden skewer and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Comments 

To increase or decrease the amount of heat carefully use the Serrano chilies whole or remove the seeds and rib membranes before pureeing or mincing. And as always, wear disposable gloves whenever handling chili peppers.