RECIPES: Recipe Details

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The Southwestern Special

Ingredients 

1 bulb of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 to 8 strips thick cut smoked bacon
1 cup baby portabella mushrooms, stems removed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground pepper
4 tablespoons pureed chipotle in adobo sauce (divided in half)
3/4 cup roasted red peppers (from jar, drained)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2.5 pounds ground Angus sirloin, sliced
Olive oil for the grill rack
12 ounces smoked Gouda cheese, sliced into 6 pieces
6 large onion Rolls
2 ripe, large heirloom tomatoes (like Cherokee or Brandywine)
1 head radicchio
3/4 cup Nopalitos (pickled cactus leaves, see ingredient note)
1 cup pickled jalapeno pepper "coins"

Instructions 

Preheat the grill so one side is at medium high heat and the other is at low heat. Cut off the top quarter of the garlic and place it on heavy duty aluminum foil. Pour the olive oil on top then wrap it completely in foil. Place the garlic on the grill over medium heat where it will roast for about 45 minutes. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool.

Place a large skillet over the hottest part of the grill and cook the bacon until crispy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set the bacon on paper towels to drain. Reserve 3 tablespoons bacon fat and return the pan to the hot side of the grill. Slice the mushrooms into 3/8 inch squares and cook the mushrooms about 4 minutes, stirring every minute. After 4 minutes add the salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of chipotle puree and continue cooking for about 4 minutes to allow the mushrooms to render out their water. Remove the mushrooms from heat and allow them to cool in a small bowl on ice.

When the garlic bulb has cooled, squeeze it from the bottom to release the cooked cloves, discarding the papery skins. Mash up the cloves on a cutting board with the back side of a knife into a paste and set aside in a small bowl.

To make the Aioli, add half of the garlic paste to a food processor with 2 tablespoons chipotle puree, the roasted red peppers, mayonnaise and cilantro. Process until completely pureed then empty into a medium bowl. Set aside in a cool place.

Add the ground meat to a large mixing bowl and mix in the cooked mushrooms with the remaining roasted garlic paste. Mix carefully using your hands and try not to compress the meat. Form 6 evenly portioned patties from the mixture.

With the grill at medium high heat, clean the grate with a wire brush. Brush the grate with olive oil to prevent sticking. Add the patties directly over medium high heat and cook for 4 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Place the finished burgers in a baking dish and top each with a slice of cheese. Lightly tent with foil making sure the foil does not hit the cheese.

During the final minutes of cooking toast the rolls on the grill cut side down being careful not to burn.

Slice the tomatoes so you have 6 large pieces 1/4 inch thick. Shred radicchio as you would for making coleslaw.

The Nopales come in long strips. Slice the strips up so you have 1/4 inch pieces. Each Burger will get about a tablespoon.

To assemble the burgers, take spread a generous amount of roasted pepper aioli on the cut sides of the buns. Take the bottom side of the bun and top that with a tablespoon of Nopales and 3 or 4 jalapeno "coins". Sprinkle some shredded radicchio on top. Place the cheese topped patty on top of that. Next, add enough bacon to cover the patty and top that off with a tomato slice and the top of the bun. Repeat with the remaining 5 burgers.

Makes 6 burgers

Comments 

Although I prefer natural lump charcoal for its smokey flavor, there are times when I need to fire up the gas grill for convenience sake. This recipe replaces the smokey flavor of wood that is lost when cooking without charcoal. It uses smoked bacon, smoked jalapenos and smoked Gouda cheese. Pickled prickly pear cactus is used instead of pickles as it’s a native plant in the southwest and is found in many Mexican dishes.

Nopalitos can be found in the Mexican section of your grocery store. In Vermont, I found the brand "Dona Maria" in most stores. Goya makes Nopalitos as well.