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Ancho Hazelnut Burgers with Avocado Lime Crema

This recipe is inspired by Mexican Mole—the chocolate and cinnamon accents are fired up with ancho chile and the use of hazelnuts and seeded buns embraces the Oaxacan tradition of blending seeds and nuts into mole sauces.


1 California Avocado
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon for Crema and 1 1/2 teaspoons for patties
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons ground ancho chile or ancho chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup Sutter Home Zinfandel
2 pounds ground sirloin
1/3 cup hazelnut meal
1/4 cup Colavita olive oil, plus extra for greasing grill rack
2 yellow onions, peeled and cut in thick rings
6 seeded hamburger buns, split


Preheat a gas grill to medium-high. To make the Avocado Lime Crema, in a medium bowl mash together avocado, lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon of salt (set aside remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt for use in patties) until almost smooth. Mix in chopped cilantro and sour cream and refrigerate until read to use. To make patties, in a small bowl, mix together ancho chili powder, cocoa powder, cumin, cinnamon, remaining 1 ½ teaspoons salt, tomato paste and Sutter Home Zinfandel. In a large bowl, gently combine the ground sirloin, hazelnut meal and Ancho-Zinfandel spice blend, handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, but still mixing well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the hamburger buns. Drizzle the onion rings with 1/4 cup Colavita olive oil. Brush the hot grill rack with extra Colavita olive oil. Grill onions over high heat for 3-4 minutes until grill marks appear. Carefully flip onion rings and grill 3 more minutes. Transfer onions to a plate and reserve until later. Place the patties on the grill rack, cover, and grill over medium-heat until browned on the bottoms, about 5 minutes. Turn the patties and continue grilling until done to preference, about 4 minutes longer for medium. During the last few minutes of cooking, carefully place the hamburger buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. To assemble burger, layer grilled onions on the bottom hamburger bun, top with grilled patty and a heaping scoop of Avocado Lime Crema. Add the burger top and serve. Makes 6 burgers


If you can’t find ancho chile powder in your local grocery (although it is prevalent in most spice sections), look for whole dried ancho chiles, soak in hot water for 2 hours, drain, and grind in a food processor to make your own powder.