That’s right, getting in just under the wire for our Magazine of the Month, it’s the cover recipe.
Not sure where the bullet went but I suppose when this is your 9 gazillionth BBQ issue, somebody tells the photographer to do whatever the hell they want, just get it on my desk by Friday.
1 pound red onions, cut crosswise into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick rounds
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped chipotle chiles from canned chipotles in adobo* plus
2 tablespoons adobo sauce from can
2 teaspoons (or more) balsamic vinegar
2 1/4 pounds ground beef (15% to 20% fat)
Coarse kosher salt
6 thick slices sharp cheddar cheese
6 large English muffins or hamburger buns, split, cut sides grilled
6 tomato slices (optional)
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat): Arrange onion rounds on baking sheet. Brush with oil; sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt and pepper. Transfer onion rounds (still intact) to grill rack; close cover. Cook until grill marks appear, about 4 minutes per side. Reduce heat or move onions to cooler part of grill. Close cover; cook until onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Toss with vinegar. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover; chill.
For chipotle ketchup:
Mix ketchup, chiles, adobo sauce, and 2 teaspoons vinegar in small bowl. Season with salt and more vinegar, if desired. do a h e a d Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Shape beef into six 1/2-inch thick patties. Sprinkle patties on both sides with coarse salt and pepper.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Place burgers on grill. Close cover; cook burgers until bottoms start to darken and juices rise to surface, about 3 minutes. Turn burgers; cook to desired doneness, about 3 minutes longer for medium-rare. Top with onions and cheese. Close cover; cook until cheese melts. Place muffin bottoms on plates; spread with ketchup. Top with burgers, tomatoes, if desired, spinach, and muffin tops. Serve, passing remaining ketchup separately.
*Dried, smoked jalapeños in a spicy tomato sauce called adobo; available at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores and Latin markets.
I’ll tip my hand a bit here and say this turned out almost really good. Piece by piece then, the burger was a burger. The cheddar could have been smoked because as it was it just was kinda there. The spinach was fine and a nice contrast to the richness of the rest of it. The chipotle ketchup, while making me cringe and want to babble about tablescapes, was really good. I’m a sucker for adobo sauce, but as I was halfing the recipe and didn’t quite half the amount of chipotles I put in, it came out a little hot. I also forgot that Mrs. Citizen Chef had sunburned lips. Ahem.
The onions though, were awesome. Nothing revolutionary in the prep here, but the dash of balsamic at the end really brought out the flavor. And honestly, I haven’t found the food that doesn’t get better with a little balsamic.
The english muffin. This is where it fell down a bit for me. You know how in almost every sci fi movie, they run around with a different kind of flashlight? Like it’s mounted on their hands, or their heads, or on their waist or something? Like it must be the future because they’ve progressed so far beyond the antiquated hand-held flashlight. That always bugs me because the future versions aren’t really any better than the normal version. They are trying to improve something that doesn’t need improving just to be different. The english muffin. No I didn’t forget what I was talking about. As you will see from the upcoming pic, I neglected to toast mine and that might have helped, but in the end the english muffin bun on this was just a flashlight tied to a small pony.