The Art of the Broncos Tailgate Burger
What’s on your menu?
It’s about that time of year when Paxton and Trevor become the subject of small talk in boardrooms, bars, bathrooms, and sometimes bedrooms … when Dave Logan’s voice booms from car radios … and when people gather outside of Mile High on game day to focus on what matters most in life — good friends, good food, a good amount of beer, and Broncos football. For many, it’s the only consolation to the end of summer — that and skiing. So as I write this, I mourn the inevitable end of summer, but welcome the NFL season with open arms and open beers. In fact, I can almost smell succulent cuts of meat searing on an open grill, hear the constant “tsst” sound of my buddies’ liberating brews from their aluminum vessels, and hear the faint laughter of good times being had in Lot C (even though we are in Lot E). Which leads me to my next thought: what’s on the Broncos tailgate menu for the next game?
Since we’re in Denver — birthplace of the JCB (jalapeño cream cheese burger) which, for the record, can only be properly enjoyed at My Brother’s Bar — I’m thinking we do some simple JCB-inspired burgers and, for a side, some elote (that’s grilled Mexican street corn!).
So let’s get to cookin’! But first, it should be noted that I always prefer charcoal — not only for flavor, but because it’s easier to control hot spots on the grill. With your charcoals concentrated on one side, you have a hot zone you can use to sear and seal in juices, while on the other side, you have an indirect heat zone perfect for finishing. You can do this just as well with gas — just make sure to keep a close eye on things.
And if you’re reading this, then you know how to cook a burger, you know how you like it, and you know that a liberal application of salt and pepper will go a long way. So I’ll spare you the patty prep part, and I’ll take mine medium-rare.
Thus, the art of the Broncos tailgate will come via toppings, and in this case we’re going to do cream cheese-filled poblano (or jalapeño) with mango salsa, and a side of elote.
Step 1: Before you start the grill or before the Broncos tailgate, prepare the salsa. This will allow time for the flavors to marry. All you have to do is dice and combine the following:
A few large tomatoes, say 5
Some fresh onion, say 1
1 bunch of fresh cilantro or enough to satisfy
1 large jalapeño (optional) or enough to satisfy
1 large mango or enough to satisfy
2 minced garlic cloves or enough to satisfy
1 lime, juiced, or enough to satisfy
a pinch or two of salt
Combine all in a bowl and let sit at least one hour.
Step 2: Start grill and prepare the elote (also can be done pre-tailgate).
Mix together the following:
1 cup of butter
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Lime juice from 3 limes
Salt and pepper
Have on hand:
6 ears of corn in husk
1 cup of cotija cheese
Step 3: Prepare the poblanos (again, can be done pre-tailgate).
Just slice the poblanos in half, coat with a small bit of oil, and fill with cream cheese. You can even cut it with another one of your favorite Mexican cheeses, but I’d avoid going too sharp. Then sprinkle bread crumbs atop the cheese part.
Step 4: Fire away. The grill is hot and ready, and if you want to, throw a chunk or two of mesquite on there for some smokey goodness.
You already know how to cook the burger.
For the poblanos, char them on the hot side of the grill and then move them to the finishing side until they reach their desired level of char/tenderness. Place on top of the burger, add salsa and whatever else your heart desires, and bite away.
For the elote, grill corn in their husks until they start to blacken, about three-ish minutes on each side. Then all you have to do is peel back the husks, rub the chili lime butter on them, and garnish with cotija.
Pro-tip: When you go into the game, you really don’t want to store your grill in your car. It’ll be greasy and dusty and will leave a face-wincing smell.
Step 5: Unapologetic indulgence.
Now it’s time to take in the savory meaty flavor of a hunk of ground chuck coupled with a creamy, crunchy, sweet, somewhat smokey and spicy end. Follow that with a bite of buttery elote and some Broncos football, and you’re set.
As for booze, if we’re doing it my way, I’ll probably start with a Sol or two, take a shot of tequila, and end up in cheap, light, American marathoners by the night’s end.
What are your thoughts? Do you have any awesome Broncos tailgate recipes, drinks, or snacks you want to share? If so, let us know in the comments below!
Want to hear more about what’s going on in Colorado? Did you see the Broncos perform their Friends parody video?