An Affair, of Sorts

Burgers used to be reserved for parties (July 4th, anyone?), and those heavily anticipated trips to McDonald’s, although to tell you the truth, I was more of a “McNugget” kinda girl in my younger days, because that way I didn’t have to worry about the possibility of them putting mustard on my patty. Now that I’ve decided to befriend mustard of all shapes and sizes, lastly the deli-style, I’ve moved to ordering cheeseburgers at Mickey D’s, and although I know there’s more corn than meets the eye in that burger, probably more corn than beef, I do enjoy them once every year or so. The chopped onions and pickles are the best part, really. Or is it the McFlurry, or the fries?

However. We didn’t have White Castle in North Carolina as we do in Illinois, and if I got to choose my fast-food burger joint, I’d possibly choose White Castle over the Golden Arches, extra grease and all. I enjoy the ‘regular’ slider, but Hubs prefers the ones with jalapeños. The beauty of White Castle is that the burgers are teeny weeny, so you can get both. Maybe even two or three of both. Just sayin’.

Holy crap. I realized when re-reading this that I totally forgot about Culvers! Okay, Culvers wins over them all….. hands down.

Thanks be to our CSA meat share, rather than choosing the dish and then procuring the ingredients, I’ve started choosing recipes based on what protein’s in the freezer and what veggies are left in the crisper, and then I fill in with a trip to the g-store. We plowed through the pork sausage relatively quickly, used some chicken thighs in a lackluster paella recipe (use this one instead, please), not to mention the last of my smuggled Spanish chorizo, and have now made burgers twice in the past two weeks. Yes, twice.

I see no problem with that. And you shouldn’t either.

In fact, I’d like to invest in a meat grinder attachment in an effort to take my relationship with burgers to the next level, if you catch my drift. But for now, since vacation is nigh and ‘unreasonable spending’ is frowned upon (but really, is a $30 meat grinder unreasonable?!), I’ll be settling on the pasture-fed, organic meat from the local farmers that’s supplied to me monthly, by the box, at the little kitchen store across the street.

This relationship is sort of on the back burner, I suppose. But I’m not hiding anything – I want it, and bad I’m afraid.

If you’re also not quite ready for that next stage in meat-lovin’, might I suggest that you try out some ground bison, if you haven’t already? There’s certainly nothin’ wrong with sirloin, or ground chicken or turkey even, but bison is another beast, if you will. There’s a lot less intramuscular fat in bison than in beef, and as a result you wind up with healthier burgers that are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. If you’re not sold on the healthy schmealthy stuff, try this on for size: they taste better too.

Of course, with a recipe like this, it’s quite possibly hard to go wrong no matter what ground variety you choose. The poblanos add a little spice but not too much heat, and the chipotle cream is a concoction that will sub for cheese any day, and before now I thought there was no such thing as a burger if it wasn’t a cheeseburger. Pickled onions? The icing on the cake, or rather, the bun. Enough said.

Roasted Poblano & Bison Burgers with Pickled Onions & Chipotle Cream
Adapted from Cooking Light, July 2010; serves 4

printable version

2  poblano chiles
1/2  c  sugar
1/2  c  rice vinegar
1/2  c  water
1  jalapeño pepper, halved lengthwise
1 large red onion, sliced into thin, vertical pieces
1  T skim milk (or other milk)
1  slice of bread, crust removed, torn into tiny pieces
4 T fresh cilantro, minced, divided
1  t  g cumin
1/2  t  g coriander
1 t chipotle chile powder
1/2  t  kosher salt, divided
1/2  t  freshly ground black pepper, divided
1  lb g bison
1/2  c  light sour cream
1  T  minced shallots
1 garlic scape, minced (or 1 minced clove of garlic)
1  t  fresh lime juice
1 T + 1 t adobo sauce & 1 minced chipotle chile (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
Cooking spray
4 hamburger buns, toasted

turn burner on medium-high heat. place poblano chiles directly on burner/flame and turn often with tongs to char all sides (~8 minutes). Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel chiles, and discard membranes. Finely chop.

meanwhile, pickle the onions. bring sugar, vinegar and water to boil and toss in sliced onions. turn off heat and let sit for about 5 minutes, covered. rinse onions in cold water and refrigerate until ready to use (extra pickled onions can store in the fridge for a couple weeks).

combine milk and bread in a large bowl; mash bread mixture with a fork until smooth. Add poblano chile, 2 T cilantro, cumin, coriander, chipotle chile powder, 1/4 t salt, 1/4 t black pepper, and bison to milk mixture, tossing gently to combine (don’t overwork or you’ll have tough burgers, which is bad). Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, gently shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Press your thumb gently in the center of each patty to form a small indentation (this prevents the burger from shrinking, which is also bad).

preheat grill or grill pans to medium-high heat.

combine the remaining cilantro, salt, and black pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in sour cream, shallots, scapes/garlic and lime juice. Add adobo sauce and minced chipotle pepper (remaining can of sauce/peppers can be covered and stored in the fridge for a few weeks).

place patties on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes or until grill marks appear. Carefully turn patties; grill an additional 3 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Place 1 patty on bottom half of each bun; top each serving with chipotle cream and onions.

4 thoughts on “An Affair, of Sorts

    • I personally don’t think it’s very noticeable – it’s maybe a little more “pronounced” in flavor, but that’s it, and it’s better for ya. I do notice an overall difference between bison burgers and beef burgers in that the bison ones just taste better… maybe others will comment on their feelings on it… but give it a try!

  1. John says:

    You are absolutely spot on about the Bison, delicious, sometimes hard to find and a tab pricey @ about five skoots a lb. But, well worth it….it’s like astral projection back in time to the plains with General Custer & Wild Bill Hickcok…..Happy remote viewing & eating…..LOL

  2. Heather, you NEED that meat grinder attachment. It’s not a “want” it’s a *how do you not have one already?!* I don’t use it nearly as much as I’d like to – like you we get our meat from our CSA, but grinding up some skirt steak for tacos is one of life’s great pleasures…trust me on this.

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