Ancho Cocoa Rubbed Burgers, Summer’s Bounty Smoky Salsa and Cilantro-Avocado Spicioli

Pairs well with:


Bright and full-bodied, this Zinfandel wine is a curious contradiction in tastes.

Summer’s bounty of fresh local produce…with a kick!



2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 Tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 pounds ground chuck
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cilantro-Avocado Spicioli*

1 ripe California avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons coarsely chopped, fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Tobasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Summer’s Bounty Smoky Salsa

2 large poblanos
2 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 Tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco cheese

Vegetable oil for brushing
6 Kaiser rolls, split


Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make patties, in a small bowl mix together cocoa powder, chile powder and brown sugar until combined. In large bowl mix together ground chuck, garlic, salt, cumin and pepper. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Form into six patties. Coat both sides of patties with the cocoa-chile mixture. Place in refrigerator for 20 minutes.

To make Cilantro-Avocado Spicioli, place avocado, sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro, lime juice, pepper sauce and salt in food processor. Process until smooth and creamy; transfer to a bowl. Wrap with platic and refrigerate.

Brush poblanos, corn and onion slices with vegetable oil. Grill poblanos until slightly charred all over, 5-7 minutes, turning occasionally. Grill corn for about 10 minutes, until caramelized, turning occasionally. Grill onions about 5-7 minutes per side, or until slightly charred and tender. When poblanos are done, remove to a zip-lock plastic bag and let sit for 10 minutes. Rub off the skins, core and seed poblanos and cut into thin strips.** When corn is done, cut kernels from ears and place in bowl. Roughly chop charred onions and add to bowl. Stir in poblano strips, sour cream, salt, black pepper and cilantro. Stir in crumbled queso fresco cheese. Set aside at room temperature.

Brush the grill rack with the vegetable oil. Place the patties on the grill, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5 – 7 minutes each side for medium. Place the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of grilling. Remove the patties and rolls.

To assemble the burgers, spread the Cilantro-Avocado Spicioli on the cut sides of the rolls. On each roll bottom, place a patty and equal portions of Summer’s Bounty Smoky Salsa. Add the roll tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers.

*Can be made 1 day in advance.
**When handling poblanos, you may want to wear disposable gloves.