Friday, August 27, 2021

Chili, Chile, and Cheese Tots with Bacon Cheeseburgers

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My oldest son and his significant other came over to hang out at the pool last week, and just as they got here, thunderstorms rolled in. We made some thick half-pound burgers and tots. But not just any tots. Nope, these crispy delights were dressed with chili and chile cheese sauce. 

Chili, Chile Cheese Tots with Bacon Cheeseburgers

Talk about a guilty pleasure!  

The Bacon Cheeseburgers

There was nothing groundbreaking here, but a good burger is a good burger, right? Here is the down and dirty with how I cooked the burgers.

  • Eight ounce ground chuck patties - I get the freshest ground chuck and weigh it out into 8-oz portions. I form them into patties using a burger press that has a deeply recessed bottom. When I do that, I don't have to worry about dimples in the middle or anything like that; they don't puck up.
  • Keep them cold - keep your burgers cold until they are ready to cook.
  • Preheat the griddle to high heat and then cook the first side for 4 minutes.
  • Flip and season. I flipped the burgers and then immediately seasoned them with Flavor Anonymous Burger Bomb. I only season it on this side, so I don't hold back. I season heavily.
  • Cheese it. After about 2 minutes, I top each burger with a slice of Sargento Smokehouse Cheddar. That cheese has been competing with pepper jack as my favorite slice for burgers and breakfast sandwiches.
  • Finish it. About 3 minutes post flip (7 minutes into the cook), I check the burgers to see if they are done. For store-bought ground beef, I like mine cooked to an internal temperature of 150°f. If I ground the beef myself, I'll enjoy a medium-rare burger.
  • Toppings. For these, we simply added Smithfield Homestyle bacon and Tabasco's Jalapeno Mesquite BBQ Sauce.

Cooking half-pound burgers on a Blackstone griddle
I have been using a griddle plate in the Big Green Egg lately, so I used my Blackstone 17" tabletop griddle for this cook. 

I wanted big, bold flavors, so I used Flavor Anonymous Burger Bomb for seasoning. It unloads a barrage of flavor on your burgers.

Using freshly ground seasoning will help the seasoning adhere it's flavors to the burger.
When doing griddle burgers, I use an automatic spice grinder or pepper mill to apply the seasoning. That way, it is freshly ground for more flavor and finely ground, so it absorbs right onto the burger.

Cheeseburgers on the Blackstone 17" Griddle
I love this size for the convenience and use it often. That said, if I was buying one now, I'd go for the 22" two-burner model instead, for more space and better temperature control. I also have the big 32 inch 4-burner model but we put that one in storage because we never use it, since it's just the two of us now.

Doesn't get any better than a blanket of smoky cheddar.
Doesn't get any better than a blanket of smoky cheddar!

A delicious bacon cheeseburger
I liked the sting that the Jalapeno Mesquite BBQ Sauce adds to the burger.

Napoleon, Give Me Some of Your Tots

Who doesn't love tater tots? I can't resist that golden, crispy outside and warm, pillowy inside.

Tater tots with chile cheese sauce, chili, and red onion.

I have to deep-fry mine, though. Baked ones just leave me thinking about how much better they would have been if they were fried. 

  • I made the sauce before starting everything else and covered it to keep it warm.
  • Most of the time, we are just using Ore-Ida tater tots. We do occasionally make them homemade, but I'm perfectly fine with storebought.
  • We like to deep-fry ours at 375°f instead of 350°f because I like them extra crisp. 
  • Time is critical for seasoning. As SOON as the tots come out, hit them with your seasoning. When they first come, they have a fine coat of hot oil that will help adhere seasoning to the tot, but the heat will activate the spices that have aromatic oils in them. One minute literally makes a difference here.
  • As good as the sauce is, do not drown the tots. It is a less is more kind of thing. Drizzle a moderate amount over the tots. If you want extra sauce, serve it in a cup on the side.
  • The chili is a hot-dog sauce type chili. I used the recipe from my first book, The Kamado Smoker and Grill Cookbook.

Fire-Roasted Chile Cheese Sauce

Published 08/26/2021

Cheese sauce with fire-roasted chiles that is delightful drizzled over tots, fries, burritos, and burgers. Use whatever chiles you like, but I like to use something mild like Anaheim, Hatch, or poblano chiles for a typical crowd. For those that like it hotter, you can add a serrano and a habanero to the mix in addition to the mild chile.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup light beer
  • 2 ounces Oaxaca cheese or other mild white cheese, shredded (by weight)
  • 1 mild green chile (Anaheim, Hatch, poblano)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic


  1. Make a roux. In a saucepot over medium-high heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour until combined. Keep whisking until the roux is fragrantly nutty, just 1-2 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the liquids. Slowly pour in the beer and cream while continuously whisking. The roux will seize up at first, don't worry. Just keep whisking and adding the liquid.
  3. Add the chiles and cheese. Let the sauce get hot enough to melt the cheese but not simmering or boiling. Add the chiles. Add the cheese in small batches, whisking it and waiting until melted before adding the next batch.
  4. Season, taste, and adjust. Stir in the salt, pepper, and garlic. Taste and add salt as desired.

Yield: 1 cup

Prep Time: 00 hrs. 15 mins.

Cook time: 00 hrs. 15 mins.

Total time: 30 mins.

Tags: sauce, cheese

Our tomatoes didn't do well this year but our chile plants have been fruitful. Top right is a red jalapeno, right center is a chunky anaheim, and bottom right is my favorite - Fresno chile. The one of the left is a mature anaheim. I like to let them start to turn red.

This photo is a little blurry but you can see that I like a good bit of chiles in there. That's where your flavor is from, mostly.

Using a Cuisinart deep fryer to make tots.
We have a cast-iron pot that works well for deep-frying, but I use my Cuisinart deep-fryer more often. I've had this thing for years, and it has held up well. Immersion-style deep-fryers have a heating element inside the oil compared to the models that heat the bottom of a container to heat the oil. That makes them more responsive to heat changes.

A Cajun seasoning like Meat Church's Holy Voodoo is an excellent seasoning for tots.

Chili, Chile Cheese Tots with Bacon Cheeseburgers
We eat a lot of salads during the week, so we can eat like this on the weekends :) 

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