The ancestor of this recipe was a beloved burger on the menu of a bar where I was a cook back in my college days.
Working on a flattop grill (the same surface used in diners to cook hash browns), we’d top the burger with a special mix of veggies, top the veggies with a slice of American cheese, douse the whole concoction with beer, then cover it with a dome lid and steam the burger until the cheese melted.
It was addictive – and I don’t even like beer.
This recipe repurposes that burger with fresher ingredients and sharp cheddar. I call for ground chuck because it’s not too lean. The higher percentage of fat makes the burger juicier and more flavorful. Whenever you add fat to a recipe, it’s just going to taste better.
The poblanos are roasted for three reasons: to soften the chili’s texture, to make it easier to remove the tough peel and to develop a slight char taste. I recommend roasting them under the broiler, but if you have gas burners, you can place them right on top of a burner and char them over a low flame. If you want to skip this step to save time, you can swap in canned chilies instead.
These burgers need to be cooked on a burner on top of the stove – not on a grill. That’s so the juices that accumulate in the bottom of the skillet can be deglazed with beer and turned into a “sauce” to pour onto the burger at the end. If you’re a beer lover, choose a robust brand, which will amp up the burger’s flavor.
I can’t pretend this is a low-cal dish, but I do think it’s a justifiable (and delicious) fall indulgence.
Chili Cheeseburgers Steamed in Beer
Start to finish: 1 hour (40 active)
1 large poblano (about 4 ounces) or one 4.5-ounce can chilies
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided plus extra oil for oiling the chili
2 cups sliced onion
salt and black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1½ tablespoons minced chipotle in adobo
1½ pounds ground chuck, divided into 6 patties (shape them so that all of them will fit into one large skillet without touching)
6 ounces sliced cheddar cheese
1/2 cup beer
6 toasted buns
Preheat the broiler. Lightly oil the chili on all sides and set it on a shelf about 4 inches from the heat source. Using tongs, turn the poblano often, until the skin is blackened on all sides, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer the chili to a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and set it aside until it is cool enough to handle. When the chili is cool, peel and seed it and cut it into thin strips: put it back in the bowl.
In a large skillet cook the onion in 1 tablespoon of the oil, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cooked onion to the bowl with the chili and add salt and pepper to taste. Wipe out the skillet and set it aside.
In a small bowl stir together the mayonnaise, garlic and chipotle.
In the skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium high heat. Season the burgers on both sides with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium and cook them for 2 minutes a side.
Transfer the burgers to a plate and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Return the burgers to the pan and top each burger with one-sixth of the chili mixture, followed by a slice of cheese.
Pour the beer into the pan on top of the burgers and cover the pan with a lid. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the burgers steam for 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the burgers are cooked to the desired degree of doneness (you can nick and peek inside one).
While the burgers are cooking, spread chipotle mayonnaise onto the bottom and top of each bun. Transfer the cooked cheeseburgers to the bottom half of the buns. Turn up the heat in the skillet and boil the liquid until it thickened.
Spoon some of the reduced cooking liquid over each burger. Top with the remaining bun half.
Nutrition information per serving: 558 calories; 317 calories from fat; 35 g fat (11 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 96 mg cholesterol; 828 mg sodium; 27 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 34 g protein.