A Burger Goes to Spain

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Clean Plate Charlie is obsessed with burgers. Hey, it's better than sneaking out of the governor's mansion to rub the bacon with former Argentine TV reporters or performing unnatural acts on small farm animals.  

Charlie's burger fetish plays itself out by coming up with patties that channel the tastes, textures, and ingredients of cuisines in which the burger is more American curiosity than one of the three basic food groups (the other two being French fries and beer). In an earlier post, Clean Plate Charlie experimented with the banh mi burger, a riff on the classic Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. Today, because he's just as obsessed with the food and wine of Spain, it manifests itself as a burger gilded with chorizo, olives, manchego, and saffron.

Charlie thinks it tastes damn good. But that's just Charlie.  

SPANISH CHICKEN-CHORIZO BURGER
Burger:
1 lb. ground chicken
1 4-inch length Spanish chorizo, minced with a very sharp knife
2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplaner or finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste Burger buns 

Garnishes:
½ red bell pepper
½ onion
4 slices manchego cheese (or more, depending on how many burgers you're making)
2 eggs 

Aioli:
4 T. mayonnaise
4 oil-cured olives, pitted and minced
1 2-inch piece lemon peel, minced, plus a few drops of juice
2 big pinches Spanish saffron 

For burger: mix first three ingredients plus salt and pepper in bowl and form into as many patties as you like. 

For garnishes. Roast pepper under broiler or on grill until skin blackens. Place in paper bag for 20 minutes or so, then remove skin, seeds and slice into ¼-inch strips. Slice onions thin and cook over low heat in heavy skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until onions are golden and caramelized. Just before you're ready to serve, fry the eggs in a tablespoon of butter, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

For aioli: mix all ingredients in small bowl and set aside for at least a half-hour for flavors to marry. 

Cook burgers over medium-low heat until cooked through (you don't want to eat rare chicken burgers). Toast buns in oven, then spread both sides with aioli. Top each burger with roasted bell pepper, caramelized onion and manchego, then crown with fried egg. Scarf, preferably with a chilled Spanish rosado.

-- As told to Bill Citara



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