Torta Burgers with Refried Beans, Sharp Cheddar & Pickled Peppers

Torta Burgers | Big Girls Small Kitchen

It starts and ends with the bread. The burger, I mean. The bun surrounding your juicy meats and creative toppings hits the mouth first (top bun) and last (bottom bun). And for good reason. Yes, the meat would seem to be everything, but the way it soaks into a mayo-smeared piece of bread before dripping off the bread and onto your fingers…Well, that is the experience I crave when I think about summer grilling burgers.

I plan on having two summer classics hog my repertoire this year: burgers (bet you could have guessed) and tacos. Both are well-suited to having company or cooking for two. And though we like to imagine we’re all spending summer evenings in front of the grill, sometimes we get stuck in the city with the same stove we’ve cooked on all winter. Both tacos and burgers are also good seasonal indoor food, if we really have to talk about that.

So, summer 2014 will be the season of the Torta Burger around here. A torta is a sandwich that contains many of the Mexican-style fixings you’d find on a taco–only now, they’re between the bun. Add in a burger, and you’ve got a glorious dinner for the season.

Here’s how I meshed the two dinners, tortas and burgers: I split open a Kaiser roll and toasted it quickly, just to get a nice golden-brown color in the inside. Then I started piling the extras onto the bottom: a spread of mayo, a spoonful of refried black beans.

Earlier in the day, I pickled a few sliced jalapeños. Pickling mellows the peppers and gives them the best spicy-sweet flavor and tender texture for burgers and sandwiches.

And then, I cooked burgers–cheeseburgers. I’ve been coached recently by some professionals that the most important aspect of the burger is the meat: it should be extraordinarily fresh, and when it is that fresh, there’s no need to mix in any extra flavors at all. These days, I just shape patties, then sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and that’s it! Once I’ve cooked the first side, I flip the burger and add cheese. When done, the cheesy burger is plopped right down on the refried beans, and the pickled jalapeños, plus some cilantro sprigs, go on top. The rich mayo and bean layers complement all that meat, and you won’t feel like they’re bogging down the bun. 

That’s the torta! Instead of potato chips or fries, I served my Torta Burger with a side of corn chips. Guacamole would be wholly welcome, too.


Torta Burgers with Refried Beans, Sharp Cheddar & Pickled Peppers
Serves 2

Any toppings that would be at home on a taco are welcome here: tomato, shredded lettuce or cabbage, red onion–even guacamole. You can make both the peppers and the beans early in the day. You’ll want the beans at room temperature when serving, but the peppers can be cold.


For the peppers:
1/2 cup apple cider wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
pinch dried coriander
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 jalepenos, trimmed, and thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
1 slice white onion (optional)

For the burgers:
12 ounces freshly ground beef–not too lean

For the beans:
One 14-ounce can black beans
2 tablespoons safflower or olive oil
1/4 onion, chopped

For assembly:
2 Cobblestone Corn Dusted Kaiser Rolls
Thick slices sharp cheddar
A few sprigs of cilantro sprigs

Make the pickled peppers: Place the vinegar, sugar, coriander, and salt in a small pot and heat to boiling. Stir so the sugar dissolves. Pile the sliced peppers and the onion in a jar at least 1 cup in volume. Pour the hot vinegar over the peppers. Let come to room temp. Cover and place in the fridge until ready to use.

Now, make the beans: Puree the beans in a food processor. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 4 minutes, until softened and browning around the edges. Add the pureed beans and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 15 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, then taste for seasoning, adding more if you like. Set aside.

When you’re ready to eat, heat a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until very hot. While the pan heats, gently shape the meat into two equal disks, about the same size as your buns, without squeezing or pressing on the meat. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Brush the pan with some olive oil. Cook for 3 minutes, then flip the burgers. Place the cheese on top and cover the pan. Cook 2 to 3 more minutes for medium rare, remove the lid if the cheese has already melted.

While the burgers cook, toast the buns. Spread each bottom half with mayo and top with a generous portion of refried beans, spreading evenly to the edges. Place the finished burgers on top of the buns. Top with jalapeños and cilantro sprigs, then the top bun. Serve immediately, with corn chips.

Compensation for this post was provided by Cobblestone via AOL Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Cobblestone or AOL. Check out the Cobblestone slideshow on Kitchen Daily to see other cooks’ Cobblestone creations. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that keep Big Girls Small Kitchen delicious! 

Posted in: Weeknight Dinners
  • Sammi Sunshine

    Being a “foodie”, the bread is a big part of the burger experience for me! But no one in my family feels the same way, so they just go with whatever works. Haha

  • EricaLeaPhotos

    Yes! The bun makes a huge difference. Homemade are so so good. I had an English muffin burger at a local restaurant and it was very good. This is such a creative burger!

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