Pimiento cheese is one of those wonders of the south – cheddar cheese and pimientos bound together with mayonnaise and usually served as sandwich spread on white bread. I was introduced to this “delicacy” while living in Texas and knew that I should enjoy in more than I actually did. Over the years I tried several versions of it and realized that it was the amount of mayonnaise (often Miracle Whip) that was putting me off. I started to tinker with my own recipe and found that by substituting cream cheese for the mayonnaise, it became something that I really enjoyed with celery sticks – my preferred vehicle for getting it into my belly. (For my recipe, go to Pimiento Cheese: The Shmear of The South).
In wanting to make the pimiento cheese a burger topper, I knew it had to be a bit more spreadable so I added some mayonnaise back to the recipe which I really like for these sliders. Since I was in Texas when I discovered pimiento cheese, I thought it only fitting to give the burgers a southwestern flair with the addition of some diced green chilies. I would recommend the Hatch brand as they are genuine Hatch chilies from New Mexico and after all, it is Hatch chile season!
South-By-Southwest Pimiento Cheese Burgers
makes 12 sliders
For Pimiento Cheese:
2 tablespoons softened cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons grated onion (not finely chopped)
1/4 teaspoon garlic, grated
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp celery salt
1 pinch cayenne
4 oz. extra sharp cheddar, shredded (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped pimientos, drained (from a 4 ounce jar, reserve remaining)
Thoroughly combine everything up to the cheddar cheese and pimientos. Fold in the cheese and pimientos. Alternately, dump everything into a food processor and blitz – it’s just a little smoother is all. It can be enjoyed at this point, but it is really best if it’s left to sit in the fridge for an hour or two to let the ingredients to get to know each other.
For the burgers:
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80/20)
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons diced green chilies, preferably Hatch
2 tablespoons chopped pimientos (remainder from pimiento cheese)
12 slider or mini burger buns
Butter lettuce leaves
12 slices cooked crisp bacon
Crumble ground chuck into a bowl. Add celery salt, black pepper, chilies and pimientos. Mix well with your hands but do not mash together. Shape ground beef into 12 patties slightly larger than the buns. Indent the burgers with your thumb and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Set up grill for direct cooking over high heat. Brush and oil the grates before cooking.
Grill the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium (165ºF). Remove from grill and spread patties with pimiento cheese. Serve on hot toasted buns with butter lettuce leaves, and bacon.
Cheers and Happy Grilling!