Hatch Chili & Cheddar Bacon Smash Burger Sliders
Grown in Hatch, New Mexico, Hatch chilies are in season during late summer and early fall in the American southwest (and sold on the West Coast as well). The New Mexico peppers range from mild to hot and come in both green and red varieties. I hadn’t encountered the fanfare and borderline obsession that people have surrounding Hatch pepper season until moving to California. People love them for their balance of sweetness and spice as well as their versatility. They can be roasted, smoked, made into salsas, soups and chilies or just chopped and used to top salads or accompany meats. (If Hatch chilis aren’t available in your area, you can substitute Anaheim green peppers for this recipe. They can be found at most grocery stores nationwide and year round.)
In this recipe I blister the chilies on the stove then remove the seeds to cut down on the heat while keeping the flavor. The chilies are mixed into the patties with shredded Cheddar cheese then add extra to the top of the sliders with sliced Cheddar cheese and bacon for extra flavor. These sliders make for the perfect appetizer for tailgating during fall.
¾ pound applewood cured bacon
3 Hatch chilies, divided
2 ½ pounds (80/20) ground beef
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 green onions, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, sliced
12 slider buns, halved
Preheat oven to 400º. Arrange the strips of bacon in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Cut each strip in half lengthwise.
Heat a gas stove burner to medium-low heat. Add the chilies to the grates so they sit over the open flame and let cook until charred all over, rotating occasionally with metal tongs, about 1 to 2 minutes total. Add the chilies to a bowl and cover with a plate and let the chilies steam for about 10 minutes. Remove the chilies from the bowl and use your fingers to rub off the charred skin and discard. Slice off the top of the chilies and remove the seeds.
Set one of the chilies aside and chop the remaining chilies. Add to a large mixing bowl with the ground beef, cheddar cheese, green onions, salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix the ingredients until combined, being careful not to over mix. Shape the ground beef mixture into 2½ ounce patties (you should have about 12 patties).
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add four patties to the skillet and cook for a minute. Flip and add a cooking press or aluminum foil-wrapped brick to press the burger and cook for an additional minute. Remove to a cookie sheet to let stand. Repeat the process with the remaining patties.
Preheat the oven to broil. Top the patties with the remaining cheese and broil until the cheese has melted. Slice the charred chili that was set aside into strips. Add a patty to the bottom half of a bun and top with bacon and chili and close with the top of the bun. Serve immediately.
Makes 12 sliders.