Olé Molé Chicken Burgers with Pepita Pesto and Tomatillo Slaw

Accolades 2008 Finalists
Serves Makes 6 burgers
Pairs well with:

White Merlot

Imagine sipping a lighter Merlot. This fresh, pale-pink wine is a nice change from traditional red or white wines.


Pepita Pesto

  • 1/3 cup salted pepita (pumpkin) seeds
  • 1 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup Mexican crumbled queso fresco cheese (can substitute plain feta)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Tomatillo Slaw

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium tomatillos (about 1 1/2-inch in diameter), husked, cored, and finely diced
  • 1/4 cup diced ripe mango
  • 1/2 cup bagged coleslaw mix
  • 1 jalapeño chile, diced and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion


  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 3/4 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
  • 1/3 cup smoky or mesquite barbecue sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dark raisins
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil for brushing on the grill rack
  • 6 slices Monterey Jack cheese
  • 6 rustic artisan rolls (such as ciabatta) or hearty hamburger rolls (such as sesame Kaiser), split and brushed with olive oil or butter



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

To make the pesto, place a small cast iron skillet on the hottest part of the grill. Place the pumpkin seeds in the skillet and stir frequently until toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a food processor, add the remaining pesto ingredients, and puree until smooth. Set aside.

To make the slaw, combine the sour cream, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in remaining slaw ingredients. Set aside.

To make the patties, place the chicken in a large mixing bowl. Add the chips, barbecue sauce, raisins, cocoa powder, oregano, chile powder, cumin, salt and pepper Gently combine, without over-mixing, until evenly incorporated. Form into 6 patties, about 1 inch thick.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 165º F, about 6 minutes per side. Top with the cheese and grill until melted, about 1 minute longer. Grill the rolls, cut sides down, on the outer edges of the grill until lightly toasted, about 1 minute.

To assemble the burgers, spread the pesto on the roll bottoms. Top with the patties, slaw, and roll tops.