Burger of the Month at Kuma’s Too for August, 2014
- Queso fresco
- Breaded deep fried red bell pepper strips
- Seasoned ground beef
- 10 oz. beef patty
- House-made avocado spread
- Pretzel bun
The month of August at Kuma’s Too brought the joy of devouring the meat incarnation of New Orleans thrash metalheads Exhorder in the form of a Bitch Slappy Jose-style burger (that’s a Mexicanized Sloppy Joe, by the way), and if you want to learn more about this great beefcake of a burger, then I exhorter you to keep reading! The Exhorder burger continued the spree of Mexican-inspired burgers at both Kuma’s locations in Chicago with a beef patty topped with the ground beef patty topped with deliciously seasoned ground beef in what really represents a dry, yet still juicy version of Sloppy joe minced sandwich, or, to stay thematically in the New Orleans region, the so called (if slightly archaic) “Hamburg a la Creole“. Sure, Exhorder does not scream Cajun food, but I always find it intriguing to try and track down the source of inspiration of the food I eat, so there ya go. In reality, Exhorder is a lot like Kuma’s Too’s Asesino burger from the month of May, sharing the cilantro garnish, queso and opting for breaded deep fried red bell peppers rather than the Asesino’s fried poblano strips, seasoned ground beef instead of lime braised pork and avocado spread instead of black bean spread. All in all, Exhorder is a scaled down, less bitey Asesino with a more pronounced mix of savory and sweet flavors. The seasoned ground beef portion of the burger is what shined the brightest in my palate, bringing a lot of juiciness in what was really great ground beef which did not need to hide is the presence of chili heat, citric flavors or salsa, and went greatly with the medium rare beef patty which was just as juicy and somewhat crumbly as well. Ground beef is understandably the cheapest option at most Tex-Mex joints, “Mexican” food franchises and your more authentic hole in the walls, but there was nothing cheap or simple about the ground beef of the Exhorder. It actually tasted like high quality beef by itself! It is a real shame that’s not the case in most places where shredded chicken and “steak” beef reign supreme over the mystery meat nature of ground beef.
The deep fried red bell peppers between both stacks of meat kind of acted like a fence for the ground beef, providing mighty, sweet crunch and variety to the Exhorder with every bite, and the fact that they are deep fried helped to somewhat blend the peppers with the rest of the ingredients. I also enjoyed the house-made avocado spread, which, once again, was simple and only boasted with some additional cilantro in the mix, absorbing the juices leaking from the beef patty. It tasted buttery, smooth and nutty, and added complexity to the otherwise bullheaded nature of the burger with the added benefit that no one had to tell me “Guacamole is extra”. Overall, Exhorder was simple, and a quick delight to devour with all flavors working together for an easygoing burger creation that I could see myself trying to recreate if I ever decide to don a chef’s apron.
In May, I paired the Asesino with Kuma’s Too’s brand new Bloody Mary concoction called In The Name of Suffering (Finlandia Vodka infused with red fresno & garlic, mixed with house-made Bloody Mary mix, served with a kosher salt rim ($11)), so I thought that it would be a great idea to “pre-game” with something similar and add some citrus and heat to the otherwise rather one-dimensional nature of the Exhorder, which is why I ordered the..
Dopethrone – El Jimador Tequila infused with jalapeño & mango, Cointreau, fresh squeezed lime juice, served with a cayenne & kosher salt rim ($11)
I am… not sure whether this is named after the album by English doom metal band Electric Wizard.. or after the Québécois band Dopethrone named after the Electric Wizard album.
On second thought, I should have ordered this bad boy with the Asesino burger given the jalapeño and lime one-two punch it would have delivered to the already strong notes of lime and chili heat, but paired with the Exhorder burger, the Dopethrone cocktail provided a yet another layer of complexity to the mix, spicing up the beef with tons of additional notes with every sip. Relatively clear, something tells me that the body of this Contreau-flavored cocktail is actually El Jimador Blanco, which already boasts a somewhat distant sweet and lemony mouthfeel which pairs well with the bitter triple sec orange of the Contreau. Don’t let this fool you, though. While Dopethrone does sound refreshing, it is a boozy devil to conquer, you know, in case jalapeño & mango-infused tequila is not an obvious caveat for you. The jalapeño here is no joke, and with the salt and cayenne with every sip it’s like you are taking a shot of tequila the old fashioned “training wheels” way, except rather than enjoying the bonding moment of your parents encouraging you to learn how to ride a bike in the grass, you are riding a unicycle and your parents are pushing you down a dangerous slope. In traffic. Dopethrone is spicy. It is hot. It is no joke. I needed water, and found myself gulping this crazy concoction down, because sipping it would have been way too masochistic. It did add a lot to the flavor of the Exhorder, however, and actually chewing on the burger made the fire in my mouth tolerable and… somewhat pleasant. I could not taste any mango whatsoever. It must have gotten stabbed in a dark alley by a lime and jalapeño.
Suggested beer to pair with Exhorder was what is now one of my favorite beers of all time, and coincidentally my 100th Distinct Beer on Untappd (@BonVivantinInYellow) – Off Color Brewing Apex Predator Saison/Farmhouse Ale [6.50% ABV]. Jesus Christ, what an amazing alcoholic creation. Looks just like a distilled lion’s mane would, with a a somewhat dirty, hazy orange color, and the taste is complex and mid sip it seems like Apex Predator has devoured the field mouse from Off Color Brewing Troublesome Gose/Wheat Beer [4.50% ABV], which is also one of my favorite beers. To call this beer complex would be an understatement. It has the herbal, spicy fruitiness of Sterling hops, but it has the distinctive aroma of dryhopping, probably with Crystal hops. The nose is a pleasant, if a little staggering combination of some cloves and banana bread yeast action mixed with a bowl of citrus and tropical fruit of which lemon is the most noticeable scent, followed by passion fruit, grapefruit and muscat grapes. The taste is just like the smell – saline sourness reminiscent of Troublesome but with a much, much lighter mouthfeel and more active carbonation, laced with lemon and tons of tropical jungle goodness of which the Apex Predator is king. This is a highly enjoyable beer with an ABV punch and it is very easy to drink despite its sophisticated nature. It does not taste fancy or fruity, but it is. The nice dose of tangy, sour and sweetness balanced well with the plain but delicious nature of the Exhorder and brought to life all its juiciness. It was sort of like sprinkling some lime and other seasonings on top of the avocado spread and the ground beef and felt as if the beer and the burger were just meant to be paired and enjoyed hand in hand, which is what I did.