Ancho Chili Beef Burger with Queso Fresco and Charred Pineapple Salsa

Ancho Chili Beef Burger with Queso Fresco and Charred Pineapple Salsa
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About This Recipe

Nestled in the heart of Napa Valley, a vibrant tapestry of vineyards, our wine country is not just renowned for its exquisite wines, but also for its rich culinary tapestry. As a valley chef who traded bustling restaurant kitchens for the intimate setting of home, I've always believed that the spirit of Napa is best celebrated by melding its wines with the local produce. And so, the Ancho Chili Beef Burger with Queso Fresco and Charred Pineapple Salsa was birthed.

The Ancho Chili, with its smoky depth, takes center stage in this burger. While you can source it from several places, I’d recommend popping into Oxbow Public Market. There's a spice vendor there who curates the most authentic recipes' ingredients. Now, pair this chili with the decadence of beef and the creaminess of Queso Fresco, and you’re essentially biting into the very soul of wine country.

But let's not stop there. To elevate this burger to new summery heights, the charred pineapple salsa is crucial. Inspired by the California sun, this salsa, in my opinion, encapsulates the flavor of a summer dinner idea in wine country. Fresh pineapples can be picked up at any local farmers' market; their juicy sweetness perfectly offset by the fiery hint of Ancho.

When pondering what to plate alongside this masterpiece, consider a farm to table recipe that calls for a fresh summer salad, maybe some local avocados, ripe cherry tomatoes, and a drizzling of olive oil from Round Pond Estate. They don’t just produce excellent wine; their olive oil is a chef’s dream!

Speaking of wine, your burger begs for a pairing that does justice to both the dish and the landscape of Napa. The Robert Mondavi Winery's Cabernet Sauvignon, with its deep berry undertones, or the jammy Zinfandel from Ridge Vineyards in Sonoma, are personal recommendations. Both wines, in their unique ways, mirror the symphony of flavors that this burger brings to the table, making for an ideal chef wine experience.

Now, if you're thinking about desserts, think light and airy. Maybe a pavlova topped with fresh berries from St. Helena Farmers Market? It complements our burger without overshadowing the primary flavors and feels like a gentle Californian breeze on a warm summer evening.

For those keen on turning this meal into an authentic Napa experience, consider taking a trip down to some lesser-known vineyards post-dinner. Smith-Madrone Vineyards, perched high atop Spring Mountain, offers an intimate tasting experience that feels personal, very much like our home chef meals.

Lastly, if you're ever in Napa and in need of some restaurant wine or are scouting for easy healthy dinners on a wine menu, the lesser-talked-about Fume Bistro & Bar is a hidden gem. Their chef recipe review segment often reveals some delightful inspirations, and who knows? You might stumble upon another Napa-inspired creation to whip up at home.

Wrapping up, whether you're a seasoned local or a tourist eager to savor the true essence of Napa, know that our valley, with its sun-kissed vineyards, and farm-fresh produce, offers more than just wines. It presents an invitation to explore, taste, and create. Dive deep into the culinary landscape, pair your dishes with wines that resonate with the land, and remember: every meal, especially those crafted from the heart, can be a celebration of Napa's spirit.

Ancho Chili Powder: The Star of Your Burger

Ancho chili powder, derived from dried and ground poblano peppers, is renowned for its warm, smoky flavor profile and relatively mild heat. This spice is the hero ingredient that gives the beef burger its distinct, smoky punch, making it a matchless companion for the beef. The Ancho chili's nuanced flavor is more about smokiness than intense heat, offering a balanced and rich depth to dishes, especially when paired with meats like beef. Its mild heat complements the sweet tanginess of the charred pineapple salsa, creating a harmonious balance of flavors in every bite of the burger.

How to Perfectly Char Pineapple Slices

  1. Choosing the Perfect Pineapple: Opt for a ripe pineapple. It should be slightly soft to touch with a sweet aroma at the base.
  2. Prepping the Pineapple: Slice off the top and base. Stand it upright and trim off the skin from top to bottom. Once peeled, remove the core and slice into even rings.
  3. Charring on the Grill: Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Place the pineapple rings directly on the grill. Grill each side for about 2-3 minutes or until deep grill marks appear. Avoid moving them around too much to get those perfect char marks.
  4. Cooling and Chopping: After grilling, let the pineapple rings cool for a few minutes. Once cooled, dice them into small pieces to be used in the salsa.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I substitute another cheese for Queso Fresco? Absolutely! If you can't find Queso Fresco, feta or fresh mozzarella can be suitable alternatives. However, keep in mind that each cheese will offer a distinct flavor and texture to your burger.
  2. How long can the charred pineapple salsa be stored? The salsa is best consumed fresh, but you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Remember to give it a good stir before serving.
  3. I'm allergic to beef. Can I use another meat for the patties? Certainly! Ground chicken or turkey would work well as substitutes. Adjust the cooking time as these meats may cook faster than beef.
  4. Which other spices can complement the Ancho chili powder in the beef patties? Cumin, garlic powder, or smoked paprika would be great additions. They enhance the smoky flavor and add more depth to the patties.
  5. I don’t have a grill. Can I use a stovetop method for the pineapple and patties? Yes! A grill pan on the stovetop works wonderfully for both the pineapple and beef patties. If you don’t have a grill pan, a regular skillet will work, but you won’t get the same charred grill marks.

Tips for Success

  1. Season Generously: Don't skimp on seasoning the beef patties. The salt, pepper, and Ancho chili powder are essential for drawing out the meat's natural flavors and ensuring a flavorful burger.
  2. Rest your Patties: After mixing the ground beef and spices, allow the mixture to rest for a few minutes. This lets the flavors meld and the meat to take on the spices for a richer taste.
  3. Keep an Eye on the Grill: Whether you’re charring the pineapple or grilling the patties, ensure you’re checking them regularly to avoid over-charring or overcooking. Remember, the key is to get a good sear without drying out the ingredients.

Recipe Overview

Ancho Chili Beef Burger with Queso Fresco and Charred Pineapple Salsa
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tbsp Ancho chili powder
  • 4 brioche burger buns
  • 4 slices Queso Fresco
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Charred Pineapple Salsa:

  • ½ pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced into rings
  • 1 jalapeño, finely diced
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt to taste

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Prepare the Salsa: On a hot grill or grill pan, char the pineapple slices on both sides until they have good grill marks. Remove and let them cool. Once cooled, chop the pineapple slices into small pieces. In a mixing bowl, combine chopped pineapple, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice. Add salt to taste and mix well. Set the salsa aside.
  2. Prepare the Beef Patties: In a bowl, combine the ground beef, Ancho chili powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well and shape the mixture into 4 burger patties.
  3. Cook the Patties: On a preheated grill or grill pan, cook the beef patties for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until they reach your desired level of doneness.
  4. Assemble the Burger: Toast the brioche buns on the grill for about a minute or until they're lightly browned. Place a beef patty on the bottom half of each bun. Top with a slice of Queso Fresco. Generously spoon the charred pineapple salsa on top. Place the other half of the bun on top.
  5. Serve immediately with your favorite side dishes.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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