The Bolo Burger

Burger in progress.

So at one of our favorite restaurants, they have a burger called the Bolo Burger. It’s a lovely Southwesternish burger with cream cheese and ham and lots of peppers. It’s really good, so I decided to kinda copy it but with my own modifications. Here is my not-exactly-a-recipe!

You will need:

  • n burgers worth of beef
  • n buns, lightly toasted, whatever kind you like best (I like brioche)
  • some breadcrumbs
  • some cream cheese
  • n/2 canned chipotle peppers
  • n/2 poblano chiles
  • n slices of Canadian bacon

Some discussion about ingredients:

  • What kind of beef should you get? It depends on how you are going to cook the burgers:
    • If you are going to cook them on the grill, get 80% lean or 85% lean, otherwise they will be too dry (because the fat drips off and is lost). I prefer the 85% lean personally.
    • If you are going to cook them in a pan, get 85% lean or leaner, because otherwise they will be too greasy (because the pan holds the drippings).
  • What is this nonsense with the breadcrumbs? Counterintuitively, working breadcrumbs into your burger results in a juicier burger, because the breadcrumbs will absorb juices that will otherwise flow out and be lost. For this recipe, I recommend panko breadcrumbs, but I have also made a really good cheeseburger with some crumbled-up-and-toasted cornbread (and then I put a runny fried egg on top, which, wow).
  • Chipotle peppers come in a can that always has way too many peppers in it for whatever you are doing. This is annoying, but they freeze well, and are actually easier to work with frozen, especially if you’re mincing them, which we are.
  • Poblano chiles are wide, flattish, dark green, and very shiny. They tend to turn up at the tip, which makes them look like shoes for elves. They are often incorrectly labeled as pasilla peppers in U.S. grocery stores. (Pasillas are actually skinny long peppers that are difficult to find anywhere but in specialty Mexican markets.)


  • Pre-heat your grill or pan (cast iron is always a good choice if you’re going this route).
  • Cut up the poblano chiles into two or three pieces each, such that each piece is pretty flat. Trim off the ribs and the thing that holds all the seeds. (The white stuff on the ribs and the seed-holder-thing is analogous to the placenta, and it’s where the capsaicin glands are. Swoosh!)
  • Finely mince the chipotles and mix them into the cream cheese. I usually use about two chiles for an 8oz. container of cream cheese (that’s the smaller tub). You can add more of the sauce they come in to increase the smokiness without really increasing the heat.
  • Pat your beef out thinnish, and dump some breadcrumbs on top. You want probably about a 2:1 ratio of beef to breadcrumbs (or even more breadcrumbs). Add kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper on top, and mix the breadcrumbs into the beef thoroughly. Form the beef into n patties. (A wide, uniformly thin patty is usually better, because it’ll cook more evenly than one that’s too thick in the middle. Bread analogy: think pancakes rather than buns.)
  • Put the burgers on the grill / pan, and the poblanos too, skin-side down. The burgers probably want 3-5 minutes per side, and you can leave the poblanos alone the whole time.
  • After the flip, put the Canadian bacon on the grill or pan. We’re just looking for warmed through (if you cook them too much, they turn into leather). If you’re grilling, go until you juuuust see grill marks.
  • The poblanos are ready to come off when the skin has big dark-brown blisters. If you want, you can peel the skin off (some people get a bitter / soapy taste from the skin). Slice the pieces up into strips, say 1/2″ wide maybe.
  • Assemble the burger. The arrangement I’ve found produces minimal slippage is, from bottom up:
    • bottom bun
    • cream cheese
    • burger
    • poblano strips
    • Canadian bacon
    • moar cream cheese?
    • top bun
  • Devour, then wish you had another one.

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