Queso Fresco Burger


Special Red Onions
2 large red onions
1 habanero chili
¼ cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh lime zest
Water to cover

Achote Oil
½ cup achote seeds
1 ½ cup good quality olive oil

Onion Mayo Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup special red onions
1 teaspoon fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh lime zest

2 ½ pound ground chuck
2 tablespoons fresh horseradish
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon jalapeno powder
1 ½ teaspoons Pico De Gallo Seasoning
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons achote oil
2 tablespoons Sutter Homes Chenin Blanc wine
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
6 ¼” slices Queso Fresco cheese

Vegetable oil for brushing grill
6 Kaiser Rolls, split in half
2 Tablespoons achote oil
6 romaine lettuce leaves
6 large tomato slices
12 slices avocado



Preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat.

To make the Special Red Onions: using a mandolin on the thinnest setting, slice the red onions into a non-reactive bowl. Remove the seeds and white vein inside the habanero chili and mince the chili very finely. Add to the onions along with the vinegar and kosher salt. Using a micro planer, zest the green outside area of a small lime over the onions. Toss the onion mixture to incorporate all ingredients. Add water to just cover the onions, cover the dish and refrigerate to allow flavors to meld.

To make the achote oil: combine the achote seeds and olive oil in small sauce pan over the hottest part of the grill and heat till oil is hot and the has turned a deep red color. Strain the seeds from the oil and pour the oil in a metal bowl. Put the bowl into a larger bowl of ice to quickly cool.

To make the Onion Mayo Sauce: Place the mayonnaise in a blender. Place a large handful of Special Red Onions onto a large double square of cheesecloth. Twist the four corners of the cheesecloth to close tightly and then twist tighter to squeeze all the liquid from the onions. Measure out ½ cup of the drained onions and put into the blender with the mayo. Add the cilantro, salt, lime zest. Blend till smooth. Refrigerate till needed.

To make the patties: place ground chuck in a large bowl. Using a micro planer, grate the fresh horseradish onto the ground chuck. Combine the garlic powder, jalapeno powder, Pico De Gallo seasoning, cumin, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Mix well. Sprinkle the seasonings over the ground chuck. Add the achote oil, white wine, and fresh chopped cilantro. Mix the meat by handling as sparingly as possible so as to avoid compacting the mixture. Divide the ground meat into 12 equal portions and form into patties to fit the rolls. Place a slice of Queso Fresco cheese on the center of each of six patties. Top with the remaining six patties and seal well.

When the grill is ready, brush the rack with the vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover and cook, turning once, until done to preference – six to seven minutes per side.

Once patties are on the grill, split the Kaiser rolls and brush lightly with achote oil. When patties are almost done, grill the rolls cut side down till golden brown and remove from grill. When patties are cooked, remove from grill, stacking to keep warm.

To assemble the burgers: spread a generous amount of onion mayo on the cut sides of the rolls. On each roll bottom, place a lettuce leaf, a tomato slice, a patty, a heap of lightly drained Special Red Onions (you don’t have to do the cheesecloth method here) and 2 avocado slices. Add roll tops and serve.