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The Best Green Chili Hamburger

It was in New Mexico that resident chef Bobby Flay had what he considers to be the best Green Chili Burger he has ever tasted. He shares the recipe on The Early Show, and also prepares a Cactus Pear Margarita and a classic Margarita to complement the dish.

The round diskette of a beef patty gets its name "hamburger" from the seaport town of Hamburg, Germany. According to Barron's Food Lover's Companion, somewhere around the 19th century, "sailors brought to the town the idea of shredded raw beef after trading in the Baltic provinces of Russia. Some anonymous German chef decided to cook the beef...and the rest is history." Even today, despite concerns for elevated cholesterol and weight, there are days when some people crave a nice juicy burger, hot off the grill.

So what's a burger?

According to Flay, a perfect hamburger is one made with ground chuck - 80 percent lean to 20 percent fat. This grade of lean beef provides both flavor and juiciness without giving pause to the health conscious. Add some very fresh, quality ingredients, mix well before the meat hits the grill, and you're on your way to a most fabulous dining experience.

Flay uses only salt and pepper to season his burger meat. He reserves the additional flavor additives for the condiments du jour that come once the burger has made the bun its permanent home. When mixing the salt and pepper, Flay says to turn the meat only once and avoid pressing it. Over-mixing causes the ground chuck to toughen up.

The green chili sauce for Flay's burger gets its color from green poblano chilies. These chilies look like dark bell peppers, although they're a little narrower and longer in size. Poblanos pack a little heat, generally classified as mild to immediate. These are the same chilies used when to make chile rellenos.

Epazote is a pungent wild herb that tastes much like fresh coriander. When he can find this herb, Flay will use it to season the green chili sauce (in place of oregano or cilantro). Epazote is generally used in many Mexican bean dishes because it's said to reduce the gas that often comes from eating beans.

Chihuahua cheese is another ingredient used in this recipe. It is a pale yellow semi-soft cheese produced in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The taste can vary from mild to nearly cheddar-like. Chihuahua cheese is sold widely outside of Mexico. If unavailable, substitutes like Monterey Jack, Provolone, and very mild cheddar can be used instead.

Last there's the pickled jalapeno. The name speaks for itself.

The following are the recipes:

Green Chili Burgers
Serves: 4

Green Chili Sauce
2 poblano chilies, grilled, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium red onion, grilled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh epazote, oregano or cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup water
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste.

2 lbs ground chuck
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 slices Chihuahua or provolone cheese
Romaine lettuce
Pickled Jalapenos
Sliced beefsteak tomatoes
4 hamburger buns

Heat grill to high. Form meat into four 8-ounce burgers and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill until charred on both sides and cooked to desired doneness. Place 2 slices of the cheese on each burger; close the lid or tent with foil and cook until the cheese has just melted, about 1 minute. Place burgers on bun and top with green chili sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and pickled jalapeno, if desired.

Note: Use high heat. A great tasting burger needs only to be on the grill 2 to 3 minutes on each side to arrive at a perfect medium doneness.

Mesa Grill Margarita
Serves: 1

2 oz white tequila
1 oz orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Triple Sec
1 oz fresh lime juice
Ice Cubes
Coarse salt, optional
Lime wedge

Place tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake for 10 seconds. Rub the rim of a rocks glass with the lime wedge and dip in salt. Strain the mixture into the glass and garnish with the lime wedge.

Cactus Pear Margarita
2 ounces white tequila
1 ounce cactus pear syrup, plus more for dipping the rim in
1 ounce orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Triple Sec
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
Coarse Salt - optional
Lime wedge

Place tequila, orange liqueur, cactus pear syrup, lime juice, and ice in cocktail shaker and shake for 10 seconds. Place a few tablespoons of the cactus pear syrup on a small plate. Dip the rim of the glass in the syrup, and let the excess run off then dip in salt. Strain the mixture into the glass and garnish with a lime wedge.

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