Crunchy Fiesta Taco Pie Burger

Pairs well with:


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

I adapted this recipe from a taco pie recipe that I used as a teenager to win a regional beef cook off in Montana. I went on to take second place in the state finals. I chose this meat combination for its rich beef flavor. The method for preparing the meat produces a very tender and juicy patty with a great texture. My goal with this taco burger adaptation is to bring a new and lively taste to the southwest and America at large.


Strained salsa

1-1/2 cups salsa, such as La Victoria’s Salsa Ranchera

Seasoned sour cream

8 tablespoons sour cream

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon ancho powder


6 tablespoons canned corn kernels, dried and minced

2 teaspoons corn meal

36 pimento-stuffed green olives, drained and chopped

20 oz. skirt steak, prepared per directions

14 oz. boneless beef short ribs, prepared per directions

1-1/4 ounces taco seasoning, such as McCormick’s original

1 teaspoon sea salt

Olive oil, for brushing grill rack

6 slices of American cheese

6 (4-1/2 inch) egg buns, split

6 leaves red leaf lettuce

1-1/2 cups cilantro, roughly chopped

1 cup crushed Frito corn chips


To prepare the meat, cut the steak and short ribs into 1-inch squares with fat intact and freeze until semi frozen, about 20 minutes.

To prepare the strained salsa, pour the salsa into a medium fine strainer and set aside to drain off most of the fluid.

To make the seasoned sour cream, combine the sour cream, ground coriander, cumin, and ancho powder in a bowl and mix well.

To make the patties, mince the corn in a mini food processor. Add the cornmeal to the processor and mix, then add the olives and pulse about 6 times until the olives are chopped. Set the mixture aside.

Divide the semi-frozen meat into 3 batches. Place one batch in a food processor and chop to a medium-fine texture, about 20 one-second pulses and then add 1/3 of the corn-olive mixture and pulse 6 more times. Pour the chopped meat onto a cookie sheet and spread, removing any large pieces of hard fat and gristle. Repeat for the remaining two batches. Sprinkle the taco seasoning and salt over the meat and gently toss with salad forks until well mixed. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and gently push and pat the portions by hand into patties without picking them up.

When the grill is ready, brush the rack with olive oil. Place the patties on the rack with a spatula, cover and grill for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the patties and top with 1 generous tablespoon of seasoned sour cream, and grill for another 5 to 7 minutes until done. In the last few minutes of grilling, place the buns cut side down around the edges of the grill to toast lightly, and top each patty with a slice of American cheese.

To assemble the burgers, on each bun bottom place a leaf of lettuce, 2 tablespoons of strained salsa, a patty, ¼ cup of cilantro and an equal portion of crushed corn chips, and bun top. Serve right away.