Tequila-Spiked Bacon Tuna Burgers with Four Chiles

Pairs well with:

Pinot Grigio

You won’t need a bouquet of flowers when you share our Pinot Grigio. This crisp wine with floral aromas is a wonderful way to make an entrance.


2 tablespoons ground California (dried Anaheim) chilies
1 tablespoon ground dried guajillo chilies
1 tablespoon ground pasilla (dried chilaca) chilies or ground ancho (dried poblano) chilies
2 teaspoons kosher salt, in all
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds sashimi-grade yellow fin tuna steaks or medallions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, in all, plus six sprigs for garnish
4 cloves garlic, minced, in all
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good quality tequila, in all
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, in all
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, in all
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 ripe California avocado
12 slices center-cut bacon
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Queso Chihuahua or Monterrey Jack cheese
2 roma tomatoes (preferably vine-ripened), seeded and chopped
1 4.5 oz. can chopped mild green chilies
Canola oil
6 kaiser rolls



Combine well in a small bowl the ground chilies, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper.

Cut the tuna into rough cubes equal to its thickness. Pulse tuna in a food processor until it has the look of ground beef. Depending upon the size of the food processor, this may require two batches. Transfer tuna to a large bowl and combine with 1/2 of the ground chile mix, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 cup of the cilantro, 2 cloves of the minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of the tequila, 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, 1 tablespoon of the toasted sesame oil, and the minced shallot. Form 6 patties, approximately 1 inch thick. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (patties need to be cold to hold shape on grill).

Halve and pit the avocado. Carefully scoop the halves out of the rind with a large spoon. Slice each half lengthwise into (at least) 9 thin slices. Place slices in a shallow bowl and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of lime juice. Gently toss the slices to coat, cover, and set aside.

Preheat the remaining 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet on a side burner or directly on the grill racks over medium heat. Spread the remaining 1/2 of the ground chile mix on a plate and press the bacon slices into it, coating both sides. Fry the bacon in the skillet until crisp, turning at least once. Do not char. Transfer bacon to a paper towel to drain. Remove skillet from heat. Carefully tilt skillet and soak up any pooled bacon grease with a handful of paper towels, leaving a thin coating of bacon grease (about 1 tablespoon) and all browned bits (fond) from the bacon and chilies. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of tequila to the pan and ignite the tequila with a long lighter or match. Gently shake the pan until the alcohol burns out. Return the pan to the heat and add the heavy cream and the remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic. Bring to a boil and whisk until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Pan sauce should be a rich orange color. Remove skillet from the heat. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup of cilantro, the shredded cheese, the tomatoes, and the canned green chilies. Cover and set aside.

Preheat grill over medium-high heat. Brush racks with canola oil. Brush tuna burgers on both sides with canola oil. Grill tuna burgers 2 1/2 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove to a plate and loosely cover with foil.

Brush bun faces with canola oil. Toast on grill. Do not allow to char.

With a rubber spatula, spread the pan sauce on the inside faces of the bun bottoms and tops. Divide avocado slices among bun bottoms, 3 slices per burger. Place the burgers on the avocado slices. Place 2 bacon slices in an “X” on each burger. Halve the burgers and secure with toothpicks. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.