Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Green Chile Variations, pt. 2, rev. ed.

green chiles fig. a:  garden-fresh chiles

So, like I was saying...

There was this initiation in the majesty and the mystery of New Mexico-style green chile that occurred sometime in the 1990s in Albuquerque and environs.  This initiation turned into something of an obsession--a Green Chile Madness--albeit one that lay mostly dormant for years afterwards.  Then there was a period of rediscovery that began a few years ago, and that resulted in the rekindling of this obsession.  Things reached a fevered pitch sometime this past summer, not long after a fateful encounter with a green chile pork burrito in Billings, Montana, of all places.  When it comes to green chile pork--the genuine article--you learn to not ask too many questions.  You learn to just accept, and appreciate.

By the time the height of summer hit, we were roasting green chiles over open flames at every occasion.  We made a lot of green chile stew, and, in an homage to both Billings and Albuquerque, we filled quite a number of burritos with that stew.  But we also made a whole lot of chunky green chile sauce that we used for a wide variety of purposes:  from dressing scrambled and fried eggs in the morning, to smothering a pile of nacho chips, to adorning our AEB green chile cheeseburger.  Michelle cried real tears of joy the first time we made these.  She cried real tears of grief about eight seconds later when she'd made her first AEB green chile cheeseburger vanish into thin air.  Luckily for her, we had the means to make more, and that's exactly what we did.

green chile cheeseburger fig. b:  come to mama!

AEB Green Chile Cheeseburger 
1 lb freshly ground beef chuck
AEB green chile sauce*
cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
smoky bacon
beefsteak tomato slices (in season)
ripe avocado slices
lettuce (optional)
mayonnaise (optional) 
Divide the meat into three portions.  Form into patties making sure that you've salted and peppered the meat sufficiently and that you don't overwork the meat.   
Fry in a pan (preferably with your leftover bacon drippings) to desired doneness, making sure to grace with sliced cheese for the last minute of cooking time.  Place patties on buns and dress with the remaining ingredients.  You might think that topping the burgers with guacamole would be even tastier than topping them with avocado slices, but, in our humble opinion, you'd be wrong:  the guacamole just competes with the green chile sauce, and the green chile sauce is already bursting with flavour. Sometimes less is more.
Place the top half of each bun on top.  Try your damnedest to hold that burger together as you take a chomp.  This may very well be the messiest burger you've ever eaten.  It will likely also be the very best. 
Makes three 1/3-pound Green Chile Cheeseburgers.  Serves 1-3.
These burgers are unreal, but don't forget about those eggs and those nachos.  Actually, you'll want to put that green chile sauce on just about everything when you have a batch around.  That's when you'll know the Green Chile Madness has set in.



* I haven't had the chance to turn the AEB green chile sauce into an actual recipe, but I can give you some pointers.

You'll need the following:
vegetable oil or lard
cumin seeds
roasted green chiles
tomatillos (optional)
chicken broth
masa harina (optional)
salt and pepper

And basically, you'll have to do the following.  Sauté your onions until they are nice and soft.  Add your chopped garlic and some toasted and ground cumin seeds.  Add your roasted green chiles, some tomatillos, if you're using them, and your chicken broth.  Be judicious with your use of chicken broth.  You don't want to add too much, but the idea here is to add enough that you can cook your sauce down, uncovered, reducing it into a thing of beauty.  This shouldn't take all that long.  No more than about half an hour, if you've added the right proportion of broth.  Add a sprinkle of masa harina towards the end of this process if you'd like to thicken your sauce further and give it a bit of depth.  The goal here is to create a fairly thick, chunky sauce that will actually be appropriate for dressing a burger.  It ought to taste like heaven, too.

You'll notice that the ingredients and the method here are essentially just a variation on the Green Chile Stew recipe from Part One.

Others opt for a simpler approach to the green chile cheeseburger.  At the end of their Saveur piece on chile-hunting across New Mexico, Jane and Michael Stern included a recipe for a prototype that they picked up from a chef in Santa Fe.  There, instead of creating an actual green chile sauce, they spiced up the burger patties, then topped them with roasted New Mexico chiles that had been roughly chopped.

Either way, you can hardly go wrong.  In fact, you can only go right.


Leigh said...

Those hands, itching to get to that 'Burg! Wonderful stuff, guys. Hope you have a great christmas and new year!

andrea said...

Do you somewhere give the recipe for the AEB green chile sauce?

aj kinik said...

thanks, Leigh--you, too: merry christmas and all the best in 2013!

hi, Andrea--I've added some basic instructions now--let me know if you have any questions--cheers!

Anonymous said...

Hello....I am a native of New Mexico....I live in the Montreal area.....is there a place I can find some green chile here in Quebec????? I've been looking for a year:(

aj kinik said...

Hi, Anonymous,
I wish! Unfortunately, here in Montreal, you're going to have to make your own. You can't get Hatch chiles here, either--so you'll have to make do with other varieties. It's worth it, though--I just made a batch this past weekend for the Super Bowl and it was just as mind-blowing as usual.

Thanks for writing.