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Rio Chama Roasted Chile Queso Burger with Chipotle Lime Mayo

This burger is en fuego! About 10 years ago, I took a canoe camping/whitewater trip with a buddy down the Rio Chama river in New Mexico through some of the most beautiful high desert terrain in the Southwest. We floated through surreal canyons filled with cottonwoods and bald eagles under a fierce blue sky. Being very well provisioned, we made these as-yet unnamed burgers on the middle night of the trip. I'm not sure if it was the pleasure of eating such an outrageous burger filled with the flavors of the Southwest in such a magnificent setting or the fact that we were starved from a long day's paddle, but these became a favorite on our canoe trips known forever-after as the Rio Chama Roasted Chile Queso Burger. The combination of spicy dry-rub, fresh ground chuck and ground round, roasted jalapenos and poblanos and chipotle-lime mayo will bring tears of joy to your eyes. Mucho delicioso!!



4-5 fresh jalapenos
2 fresh chile poblano
1 lb. fresh ground chuck
1 lb. fresh ground round
3 tsp sea salt
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tblsp Ancho chili powder
1 heaping tsp ground cumin
1 tblsp light brown sugar
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup medium to hot fresh salsa (from refrigerated section of most supermarket delis)

Chipotle-Lime Mayo

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup crema (Mexican crème fraiche)
1 tblsp lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
Zest of 1 lime
1 canned chipotle chili with adobo sauce (about a generous tablespoon)
2 tblsp canned diced mild green chilies
1 tblsp chopped cilantro
1 tblsp chopped green onion
1/2 tsp salt plus a pinch
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2-3 oz. vegetable oil


1 red onion sliced into thin rounds

6 fresh Bolillo rolls, split (available at most Hispanic markets)
3 tblsp butter softened
6 slices Cabot Pepper Jack cheese
1 red onion sliced into thin rounds
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1/2 cup stemmed cilantro
1 cup diced heirloom tomato


Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Preheat gas grill to medium high. Place jalapenos and poblanos on grill and roast until they begin to char and puff, turning as needed.. Place in a paper bag and allow to cool. Peel poblanos, remove membrane and seeds in both types of peppers and chop medium fine, and place in separate bowls. Place ground chuck and ground round in a large bowl. Combine salt, pepper, Ancho chile powder, cumin, brown sugar, onion powder and garlic powder and divide in half. Add 1/2 of spice mixture, chopped poblanos and the salsa to the beef, taking care not to over mix. Form six burgers, sprinkle remaining spice mixture on both sides of patties and place in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

Combine mayo, crema, lime juice, minced garlic, lime zest, chipotle chile and adobo sauce, green chilies, cilantro, green onion, salt and pepper in a bowl and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Brush vegetable oil on the grill. Place burgers on the grill for about 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare (internal temp of 140-145) or grill for 4-5 minutes a side for medium (internal temp of 160), turning only once. As soon as the burgers are down, keeping onion slices intact, grill for 4 minutes per side until nicely marked and beginning to soften. While burger and onions are grilling spread bolillo buns with butter and when burgers are almost done, toast on grill for one minute. Turn off grill. Place a teaspoon or so of the chopped roasted jalapenos and a slice of pepper jack queso on each burger and close lid until cheese begins to melt (about another minute). Spread toasted buns top and bottom with chipotle-lime mayo, top burger patties with grilled onions, lettuce, stemmed cilantro leaves and heirloom tomatoes and devour.


These burgers are great with a chilled Sutter Home White Merlot or White Zinfandel, or, add a cup of orange juice, juice of two limes (throw in the rinds), 3 oz Maraschino cherry juice and about a dozen cherries, a sliced orange, sliced lemon and a sliced apple, a cup of club soda and a bottle of Sutter Home Pinot Noir into a pitcher, chill and pour over ice in a tall glass and you have a perfect Sangria for your fiesta!