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Grilled, Sandwiches

Mexican cemita burger

Mexican cemita burger
Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

To any real fan, a hamburger is never "just a burger." A great burger is a work of art, passionately thought out and painstakingly executed. The very extension of the grill master's own identity. And, of course, determining what makes ... Read more

Total time: About 1 hour | Serves 2

Chipotle crema

  • 2 canned chipotle peppers (packed in adobo sauce), diced, and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/4 cup Mexican crema (can substitute creme fraiche)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise

Step 1In a small mixing bowl, combine the chipotle, garlic, Mexican crema and mayonnaise. Mix until well combined. This makes about two-thirds cup chipotle crema, which will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.

Avocado spread

  • 1/2 cup lightly mashed avocado, preferably Hass (about 3/4 of an avocado)
  • Scant tablespoon lime juice
  • Kosher salt

Step 1In a small mixing bowl, combine avocado and lime juice. Season with one-eighth teaspoon salt, or to taste. This makes a scant one-half cup avocado spread, which will keep, tightly covered and refrigerated, up to 1 day.

Patties and assembly

  • 3/4 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper, minced with 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • Scant 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Canola oil for pan frying
  • 3 ounces Oaxacan cheese (quesillo), separated into thin strings (can substitute mozzarella)
  • Chipotle crema
  • 2 sesame seed buns, toasted
  • 5 papalo leaves, finely minced (or 1/4 cup cilantro sprigs plus 2 tablespoons watercress leaves, minced)
  • 1 cup corn tortilla chips, lightly crushed
  • 2 very thin slices red onion
  • Avocado spread

Step 1In a large bowl, combine the beef, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine, but do not overmix. Divide the mixture in half and form the portions into patties to fit the buns.

Step 2Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add enough oil to form a thin film on the bottom of the pan, about 2 tablespoons, then add the burgers to the skillet.

Step 3Cook the burgers until set and browned on one side, about 3 minutes, then flip. Top the burgers with the cheese, then cover the pan with aluminum foil. Cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes for medium-rare burgers, or until the burgers have reached desired doneness.

Step 4Assemble the burgers: Spread the chipotle crema evenly on each cut side of the toasted buns. Sprinkle the minced papalo leaves over the crema on the cut sides of the bun tops. On the bottom halves of each bun, sprinkle the crushed tortilla chips then top with a cheese-topped patty, a slice of onion and equal amounts of the avocado spread. Top the burgers with the bun tops and serve immediately.

Note: From Harold Cohen of Hollywood, Fla. Papalo leaves are generally available at Latin markets; a combination of cilantro leaves and watercress can be substituted. Oaxacan cheese (quesillo) is available at Latin markets as well as the Latin sections of well-stocked supermarkets.

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