Cuisine in New Mexico is known for its use of green chiles— they’re eaten with practically everything. The most famous green chile food combination is probably the Green Chile Cheeseburger, which is having a moment. Chef Bobby Flay just took it on in a Throwdown (aired 7/22) and lost out to the burger made by Bobby Olguin of Manny’s Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio, NM. Olguin’s roasted, re-fried Big Jim Chiles, American cheese and griddled patty beat Flay’s interpretation, a burger topped with blue corn chips, pickled red onions and queso sauce. The victory gave New Mexico’s Governor Bill Richardson the chance to announce a statewide September competition to determine the best commercial green chile cheeseburger. Talk about bragging rights.
Popular as this burger is in New Mexico, it’s uncommon in the Northeast. But one Manhattan establishment is attempting one: Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen. The recently-opened, street-level eatery in The New York Times building is the creation of the Schnipper brothers, Jonathan and Andrew, founders of Hale & Hearty Soups (Andrew is chef and Jonathan helps to expedite). Among other things, the menu features: burgers, hot dogs, sloppy joes, mac & cheese, French fries, and shakes. How did Green Chile Cheeseburgers make the menu? Andrew explained:
“I love them. I’ve never been to New Mexico but I’ve had them everywhere but New Mexico. Cheese and chiles with burgers is just a magical combination. Such a simple burger but so complex.”
Schnippers’ burger is really a vehicle for the chiles. It’s served on an insanely soft, enriched white bun sourced from a bakery in Maine. The thin patty is a blend of chuck and sirloin loaded with trim. Poblanos are used for their availability, balanced flavor and heat (jalapeños are added for firepower).
Peppers are roasted, chopped and tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and cilantro. Their vibrant flavor immediately impresses. It’s a layer thicker in some places than the patty, and a tingling heat builds quickly. A blend of Gruyere and sharp white cheddar coats the buttered bun’s underbelly, flavors distinct enough to compete with the peppers. “You want to taste all the ingredients,” Jon explained.
Mission accomplished. This is the sort of burger that will enable Schnipper’s to live up to the ‘Quality’ in its name. It also saved us a trip to New Mexico.