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Enchantment on a bun

Savor these New Mexico green chili cheeseburgers.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

September in New Mexico is the time and place for fire-roasted fresh green chilies. The toasty herbal grassy and mildly spicy flavor works its way into countless dishes, but none is as famous as the green chili cheeseburger.

We may be a few thousand miles away in Boston, but we can still find green chilies. For these recipes, I prefer the spice — and easy availability — of dark green poblanos. And when I’m grilling chilies for the relish to put on cheeseburgers, I usually make a double batch so I’ll have extra to stir into my beans (or scrambled eggs, or rice, or grilled vegetables, or . . . you get the idea). If you’re using a charcoal grill, you’ll have to add some charcoal to the fire between grilling the chilies and the burgers.

ROASTED GREEN CHILI RELISH

Makes about 2 cups

6 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 medium onion, cut into ¾-inch-thick slices and threaded onto a skewer

12 medium poblano peppers (about 2 pounds)

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Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on high for 15 minutes. (If using a gas grill, adjust burners to medium-high; keep the cover shut while grilling.) Meanwhile, toss the garlic with 1½ teaspoon oil and a pinch each of salt and black pepper; seal them in foil to form a pouch. Brush the onions with the remaining 1½ teaspoons oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste. Grill the whole poblanos, onions, and garlic for about 15 minutes, until the poblanos are blackened all over (turning them every 5 minutes), and the onions are tender and grill-marked (turning them, and the garlic pouch, after 7 or 8 minutes). Place the poblanos in a bowl, cover with a plate or plastic wrap, and steam the skins loose, about 10 minutes. Peel and seed the poblanos, chop finely (you should have a scant 2 cups) and transfer to a medium bowl.

Meanwhile, finely chop the garlic and the onions and add to the poblanos. Add ½ teaspoon salt, stir to mix, and set aside until ready to use (can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week).

TIP: Place fresh-off-the-grill chilies in a covered bowl to trap their steam. After about 10 minutes, the skins loosen enough to pull off easily.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

TIP: Place fresh-off-the-grill chilies in a covered bowl to trap their steam. After about 10 minutes, the skins loosen enough to pull off easily.

NEW MEXICO-STYLE GREEN CHILI CHEESEBURGERS

Serves 6

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2¼ pounds ground chuck, 85 percent lean

1 recipe Roasted Green Chili Relish

6 slices pepper jack cheese (about 6 ounces)

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on high for 15 minutes. (If using a gas grill, adjust burners to medium-high; keep the cover shut while grilling.) Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix 1½ teaspoons each salt and black pepper and the cayenne, and set aside. Divide the ground chuck into 6 6-ounce portions, and with a light hand, form the portions into patties roughly 4 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Sprinkle the salt and pepper mixture evenly over both sides of the patties.

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Grill the burgers without moving them until grill-marked on the bottom, about 3½ minutes. Flip the burgers, top each with about 3 tablespoons of the green chili relish and a slice of cheese, and continue grilling, covered, until the meat is medium-rare (130 degrees at the burgers’ centers), about 3 minutes longer, or medium (135 to 140 degrees), about 4 minutes longer. Transfer burgers to a plate, tent loosely with foil, and rest for about 4 minutes. Serve hot, on buns and topped with tomatoes, if desired, passing the remaining green chili relish separately.

SIMPLE PINTO BEANS

Makes about 7 cups

Found all over the Southwest, simply prepared pintos like these are often referred to as frijoles de olla (pot beans). If you don’t have whole dried chilies, stir 1½ teaspoons of pure chili powder into the onions at the end of their cooking time instead. If you wish to thicken the broth slightly, puree about 2/3 cup of beans and stir it into the rest.

If you’re crazy for roasted green chilies, you can pass roasted, peeled, chopped chilies or extra relish for diners to add to their beans.

Salt and ground black pepper

1 pound dried pinto beans, picked over

and rinsed

2 large or 4 small dried red chilies, such as New Mexico, pasilla, guajillo, ancho, or chipotle

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

8 garlic cloves, crushed, so skins slip off easily

Lime wedges, for serving

Finely chopped red onion, for serving

In a large bowl, mix 3 tablespoons salt and 1 gallon water and stir to dissolve the salt. Add the beans, cover, and set aside for 4 to 12 hours. Drain and rinse the beans.

In a large saucepan or small Dutch oven over medium-high heat, toast the chilies for about 2 minutes, turning as necessary. Set aside. When cool enough to handle, remove the stems and seeds. Add the oil to the pan, return it to medium-high heat, and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the chilies, beans, and water to cover by about 2½ inches, adjust heat to high, and bring to boil. Adjust the heat to low, partially cover the pot, and simmer gently until the beans are just tender, about 1 hour. Add 1½ teaspoons salt and continue cooking until the beans are very tender, 15 to 30 minutes longer (there will still be liquid in the pot). Remove and discard the chili pieces and garlic, if desired. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and black pepper to taste. Serve the beans with broth in shallow bowls, garnishing with lime wedges and passing chopped red onion separately.

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