Jalapeño-Pesto Stuffed Burgers
There are few foods that can sum up my time in college better than the burger. What I’m sure was a detriment to numerous organs, I typically had at least one burger a day. My go-to burger, no matter the restaurant, shop, burger shack, fast-food chain or grill-out, was the double cheese burger plain and dry. For me the perfect burger is an unadorned burger, a burger that lets the delicious, juicy flavors of the meat come through, all while drowning under a delicious blanket of golden yellow cheese. Yes, sometimes I will pile a few onion rings on top of my burger and sometimes I even indulge in a night of themed sliders loaded with numerous fixings. No, I rarely find those burgers any better than my simple classic of bun, meat, cheese, meat, bun.
So, when a friend from college recently contacted me regarding Chasing Delicious and whether or not I accepted challenges, I was excited to hear he wanted to charge me with making a stuffed burger. I have made the classic time and time again, I have made various fancy burgers but I have yet to make a stuffed burger. Ok I did make a Jucy Lucy once but I would argue filling a burger patty with just cheese is a little different than a stuffed burger.
As soon as David, a fellow food lover, gave me the challenge my giddy foodie persona took over. Hours were spent pondering this special, stuffed burger. I felt like I was back in college, excited about this heart-clogging, colon-ruining, liver-killing delicacy once again. It didn’t take me long to decide on something spicy and it wasn’t long after that I decided on jalapeños. I love the sweetness and spiciness that a fresh jalapeño adds. I initially figured I could do something with jalapeños, bacon and cheese but I thought that might be too easy. I don’t know where, when or how I finally came to decide on a pesto but I did. And I am glad I did. Of course this isn’t your typical pesto genovese. This one is all about the jalapeño and uses cilantro instead of basil. I really don’t think there is anything out there that pesto doesn’t work well with though. Here it helps keep the burgers incredibly juicy and it adds loads and loads of delicious flavor. I of course threw in some cheese for good measure too.
If you haven’t made stuffed burgers before there are a few things you’ll want to do to ensure a good burger. You are essentially making a ravioli but made out of burger. You’ll want to make sure you can seal the outsides to keep the filling in. You’ll also want to make sure you make each patty (for the top and bottom) thin–much thinner than you normally make a burger patty–to ensure everything will cook and the filling will get hot.
After making the first patty–I suggest about 1/3 inch thick at most–spread the filling on top. Make sure to leave 1/4 to 1/2 inch around the edges so you can seal the top patty to the bottom patty. I decided to use a jalapeño pesto, recipe below, plus some queso fresco stuffed in my typical goto burger recipe. I chose queso fresco because of its flavor and because it retains it shape when heated. I chose my typical, simple burger recipe because I wanted the stuffing to be the star of this recipe.
When sealing the two layers together, pinch both layers together completely around the outside to ensure they stick. Then push the flattened edges in a bit to keep the burger the same thickness everywhere for even cooking. It is okay if it is not perfect but try to do your best to seal all of it. You are also going to want to cook the burger an extra minute on each side as compared to your typical cooking time for a burger to ensure doneness. Aside from that it’s pretty much just like cooking any other burger.
Before cooking, let the burger meat come to room temperature. You’ll want to cook the burgers over high heat. If you’re using a grill heat the grill on high several minutes before cooking to heat the grates. You can also use a cast iron skillet indoors. Place the skillet in the bottom of an oven and turn it on 450F. Leave it in the oven until it is preheated, then put the skillet on a burner over high heat. The cooking time will be the same for both methods. Whatever method you use to cook the burgers, lightly oil the grate or skillet before adding the burger. And most importantly, you must follow these next two tips: first, only flip the burger once halfway through cooking; second, never flatten or squish the burger with the spatula. These two tips keep the juices in the burger and not flying out of the burger creating a mess and flame ups.
With this recipe you can make the pesto ahead of time and keep it refrigerated until you need it. Heck, you can even prepare the patties ahead of time and keep them refrigerated as well. Just be sure to bring them back to room temperature before grilling. This recipe will yield four large burgers with some jalapeño-pesto to spare.
Ingredients 1 large bunch cilantro leaves 1/3 cup pine nuts 2 fresh jalapeños, roughly chopped 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 1/2 cup good olive oil 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese Salt & pepper to taste Instructions 1. Using a food processor or blender, add the cilantro, pine nuts, jalapeños and garlic cloves. Pulse until broken up and the mixture begins to combine. 2. With the machine running, add the olive oil slowly. 3. Add the grated parmesan and pulse a few more times until the mixture ressembles a paste. 4. Season with salt and pepper to your taste and pulse one last time.
If you don’t use all the pesto for the burgers, pesto will keep in the fridge for a while. To tell you the truth I’m not sure how long it can last as it rarely makes it past a couple days for me–did I mention how good pesto is on everything?! You can also freeze pesto and it will keep almost indefinitely.
Jalapeño-Pesto Stuffed Burgers
Ingredients 2 pounds ground beef (80/20) 1/2 white onion, grated 3 garlic cloves, grated Salt & pepper to taste Jalapeño-Pesto, recipe above Queso Fresco Ciabatta buns Instructions 1. Heat the grill over high heat. 2. Mix the ground beef, grated onion and garlic, and salt and pepper together in a bowl. Be careful not to over mix or compact the mixture. 3. Divide the meat mixture into 8 equal portions. 2 portions will equal one burger (one for the top, one for the bottom). 4. Place one of the portions between two pieces of parchment paper. Using a plate, flatten the meat out to the desired size, making sure the patty is about 1/4 - 1/3 inch thick. 5. Spread a layer of pesto on top of the patty. Make sure to leave space around the outside. 6. Crumble and sprinkle some cheese on top of the pesto. 7. Flatten another portion of meet into a patty the same diameter as the first patty. Lay it on top of the first patty and its fillings. Press the top patty to the bottom patty around the edges, sealing it closed. 8. Running your hand around the edges of the now one big patty, push in towards the center so that the edges you pressed are made as thick as the rest of the burger. 9. Repeat steps 4 through 8 for each other burger. 10. Lightly oil the hot grates and cook the burgers over high heat about 5 minutes per side. Remember to flip the burgers only once. 11. Once the burgers are done, let them rest a few minutes before serving.
I suggest serving these burgers on lightly toasted ciabatta buns. I also suggest adorning the burgers simply with some avocado slices and a squeeze of lime juice. The freshness of the avocado and lime will balance nicely with the spiciness and bite of the jalapeño cilantro pesto and the savoriness of the burger.
While I made this burger for David, I believe everyone out there can enjoy this one. I know I did. If you’re looking for a twist on the classic burger for this Fourth of July, I definitely suggest trying this recipe.