Southwest Hamburgers from Scratch with Chipotle Ranch fries and Irish Coffee Cupcakes

So I found these fries at Trader Joe’s earlier this week and decided that I needed to make a meal around them. I thought to myself “Self, what’s more classic with fries than burgers?” Since the fries had a Mexican/Southwest flavor to them, I figured I’d echo that with the burgers. I also got a meat grinder attachment for Christmas and hadn’t used it yet. I should have photographed the meat grinding process, but got sidetracked with figuring out techniques, and my hands were covered with semi-ground chuck.

On thursday morning I made ciabatta rolls based on Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe from The Bread Bible, and roasted a couple poblanos and a yellow bell pepper.

I have some leftover Irish Cream that I made for Christmas and figured I’d make a killer icing out of it, and had to come up with something to put said killer icing on. I was going to do stout/chocolate cupcakes but figured an Irish Coffee theme might be tastier, so I took a plain chocolate cake recipe and added a few teaspoons of instant coffee granules to the mix, and baked it up as cupcakes. The icing was some softened butter that I whisked with some powdered sugar and a few tablespoons of the Irish Cream. I know that my frosting skills leave quite a bit to be desired. I like to think of the cupcakes as “rustic.” The cupcakes are dense, moist, and amazing, and the top is slightly caramelized. The icing complements them perfectly!

I made a garlic/roasted poblano aioli for the burgers as well. It was good, but I made too much and in retrospect, I’d only put it on the bottom of the bun, not the top as well, the flavor was a little overwhelming. It was also my first time making an aioli though, so I was pretty pleased.

I cooked up the bacon, sliced and toasted the buns, topped them with aioli, the top bun with some fresh avocado salsa (shockingly similar to my guac recipe, I just used bigger chunks 😉 ), and some cilantro. I grilled my freshly ground, loosely packed burgers, flipped them, added sliced roasted yellow bell pepper and topped that with cheese, then assembled everything. It was a delicious meal.

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