One-two punch of heat: Jalapenos, chipotles spice up burgers

06/03/2014 6:02 PM

06/03/2014 6:02 PM

Spiciness is in the palate of the taster: One person’s fiery dish is another’s too-mild disappointment. For the home cook, navigating heat levels can be tricky.

These simple burgers are flavored with heat-producing elements of chipotle and jalapeno chilies, and you can set the level of fire. Both peppers are jalapenos, actually; the chipotle is made by smoking the fresh pepper.

Although available dried, the chipotle peppers here are canned in adobo sauce. (Look for them among the Mexican ingredients at the supermarket.) The chipotle adds a smoky heat, while the raw jalapeno contributes fresh sharpness.

Mincing the fresh jalapeno very finely will distribute its heat evenly in the burger. Try this trick: Stem, seed and remove the ribs from the pepper, quartering it lengthwise. Drop the pieces into a running food processor. The spinning blade keeps the pieces moving, preventing big pieces from falling out of reach.

Spicy Burgers

Makes 4 servings

1 pound ground beef, 85 percent lean

1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, pith removed, finely minced

1 to 2 chipotle chilies in adobo, finely minced

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

Salsa:

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, roughly chopped

2 tomatillos, husked, roughly chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 or 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

4 hamburger buns or other buns, toasted

Mix the ground beef, jalapeno, chipotle and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl. Using your hands is the most efficient method. Form into 4 patties, each about an inch thick.

For the salsa: Stir the avocado, tomatillos, 2 tablespoons lime juice, cilantro and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a bowl until well mixed. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or lime juice as you like. Mashing the mixture a bit with a fork will help it hold together on the burger.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the burger patties. Cook, flipping once, until browned on both sides and the desired doneness inside, about 4 minutes per side. Alternately, grill the burgers over medium heat.

Serve the burgers, topped with the salsa, in the buns.

Per serving: 407 calories, 21 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 69 milligrams cholesterol, 27 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein, 779 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber

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