Talking about American foods enriched by Mexican ingredients, I can’t leave out those tasty, juicy and smoky Ancho Chile hamburgers. My mother used to make them for our birthday parties as me and my sisters grew into teenagers. We felt more hip having funky burgers instead of kid sized tacos. Plus, they were a hit with our friends.
They are a snap to make and for the Mexican spin you just need to prepare a seasoning paste with Ancho Chiles. Anchos, being ultra mild and somewhat fruity with a hint of prunes, make an instant click with the meat.
My mother used to mix half veal and half beef, when making hamburgers, meatloaf or meatballs. It works out well, but it is not necessary. She used to serve these hamburgers with the traditional American trimmings: sliced onions, tomatoes, fresh lettuce, ketchup and mustard.
But when I was reminiscing with my friend Andrea about these Mexicanized American dishes, she suggested we try a citrusy mayo spread. What a surprise! That tangy spread makes these tasty hamburgers bounce off the walls out of happiness…
I wouldn’t dare call this hamburger traditional Mexican food, although the recipe has been in my family for more than four decades. When you think about it, once an ingredient or a dish of a country enters another country and becomes accepted, it gains a life of its own.
I don’t think there ever is a right or wrong take in the kitchen (Diana Kennedy may just be aiming at me with a rifle now… ). It seems to me that it is all fair game as long as you get to know your ingredients and how to use them. And of course…there has to be a worthwhile and delicious result.
For the burgers:
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 1 1/2 pounds ground veal
- 1 1/2 cup white onion, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 ancho chiles, rinsed, seeded and soaked (explanation follows)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- safflower or corn oil
For the lime aioli:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- Juice of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon grate lime rind
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the garnishes:
- 8 hamburger buns
- yellow mustard
- 2 red tomatoes, sliced
- 8 iceberg or romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried
- 1/2 white onion, sliced
- Rinse the ancho chiles. On a chopping board, make a slit down their side and take out all of their seeds, veins and stems. Place the cleaned chiles in a small bowl and cover with 1/2 cup boiling hot water. Let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Places chiles in the blender along with the soaking liquid, onion and garlic, and puree until smooth.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and veal. Add the chile mixture, two lightly beaten eggs, salt and pepper. Mix until it is all well incorporated.
- Heat the griddle or pan over medium heat until very hot, about 6 to 8 minutes. Brush some oil on the griddle or pan.
- With your hands, mold the patties and place them on the hot griddle or pan. Cook for about 4 to 6 minutes per side, depending on how well cooked you like your burgers. I like them medium-well, so it is about 5 minutes per side for me.
- Place the garnishes on the table so that everyone can choose to their liking.
- To make the lime aioli, place everything in a mixing bowl, and just mix it all up!
- If you want to make this hamburger into a cheeseburger, Monterey jack is a great companion. Just place a slice of cheese on to the burger once you flipped it and let it melt as it finishes cooking.