It’s kind of counterintuitive for me to be writing about hamburgers when it has been raining all day – ie, SO not grilling weather, but so be it. I have to say, I think I’m developing a love of jalapeños. This is a far cry from my upbringing. In fact, I remember being a kid at the dinner table, when my dad had a cut-up piece of jalapeño next to him.
8-year-old Allison: <pointing to a jalapeño> What’s that?
Dad: <Slightly smirking to himself> Oh, nothing. It’s just a pepper. Do you want to try some?
Mom: Reid, no!
……..cut to me running into the bathroom to run my mouth under the faucet. I had so much to learn then. Now, I’ve fully progressed to actually buying jalapeños at the store. Say, what?? Oddly enough, I’ve found that when you cook them down, they lose a lot of their heat, but retain a lot of flavor. Perfect for burger application.
So, in toying around the other day, I decided to throw a jalapeño into my standard burger mix and the result was mighty tasty indeed. Now, I tend to adopt a standard method to burger making, which really allows for all sorts of customization. It just so happens that, in this case, the jalapeños worked particularly well here because they provided awesome flavor, yes, but also bright little green specks that punctuated the burger patties.
I’m all for speckled burgers. To make these jalapeño hamburgers, or any hamburger for that matter, my go-to method is as follows:
- Get 1 pound of ground meat (could be beef, turkey, what have you…as much fat as you’d like)
- In a bowl with the meat, add grated onion (it stings like the devil, but I find sticking your head in the freezer mid-tear helps)
- Add minced garlic
- Add one whole egg
- Sprinkle with seasonings of your choice
- Mix well, but not too well. Over-mixing will result in a tough burger
- Divide into four quarters, shape into patties, and throw ‘em on da fiya (or in a skillet, if you’re feeling more restrained)
Once you’ve got the basic mix down, you can add anything you’d like. Chile peppers, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, finely diced roasted red peppers, or even some grated cheese would all work beautifully. In this particular instance, I made some quick and dirty faux caramelized onions and threw them on top.
Why “faux” caramelized onions? Well, let’s take a closer look, shall we?
I basically cooked down sliced onions just until they were soft (about 7 minutes) and then I threw in 1 tablespoon each of balsamic vinegar and red wine (sweet red wine, in this case, but any will do). I cooked them for another minute or so in order for the flavors to meld a bit, and there you have my “faux” caramelized onions. You get the soft onion texture and a real meaty, flavorful bite from the vinegar and wine, but all within a time constraint I’m comfortable with. Sure, all the onions don’t get totally brown and coated, but they’ll certainly taste good and they’re perfect on top of a burger because they still have that tender crunch, but without all the harsh onion flavor. A win-win.
Now, if only the rain would move out of here and take this cursed humidity with it so I can actually straighten my hair without it curling up again. That would truly be a win-win.
P.S. One thing I have learned about working with jalapeños is that the heat from the chile tends to stay underneath my fingernails for days after, regardless of how much hand washing I do. I know I should wear gloves when I cook with the chiles, but it’s much easier to just complain about it afterwards.
Spicing up a standard ground hamburger mix with minced jalapeño peppers is a great way to get flavor into the actual hamburger meat itself.
- FOR THE BURGERS
- 1 lb. ground beef (85% lean, 15% fat...though you could easily substitute any type of ground meat here)
- 1 small onion, grated
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeño, minced
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 4 hamburger buns
- Romaine lettuce, for adding to the burgers
- Cooking spray, if using a grill pan
- FOR THE ONIONS
- 1 vidalia onion, cut in half and sliced into half moons
- 2 tsps extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp red wine (I used a sweet red wine here, but any red wine is fine)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, grated onion, garlic, jalapeño, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix gently with your hand until just combined. Set aside.
- Preheat your grill, grill pan, or skillet over medium heat. If using a grill pan, spray with cooking spray. Place the burgers on the grill pan and let cook for about 5-7 minutes on the first side.
- Flip the burgers only once and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so for well done.
- Meanwhile, to make the onions, heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is rippling, add the sliced onions and stir for about 5-7 minutes, until they start to get soft and translucent. Add the balsamic vinegar, red wine, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Remove the burgers from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Place on a hamburger bun with romaine lettuce and topped with the faux caramelized onions.
You'll notice there are 6 burgers on the grill pan in the picture. Well, 1 1/2 lbs. of ground meat will get you that, if that's your thing. Other ratios can stay the same.