Spicy Buffalo Chicken Burgers

A seriously flavorful chicken burger [Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

There was a time in my life when Saturday night out centered around cheap beer and even cheaper all-you-can-eat spicy buffalo chicken wings. The very piquant, but mostly hell burning red hot sauce was, and still is, a masochist's dream. I plowed through platefuls, the hotter the better. I was also a mess with greasy sauce all over my hands (thank god for Wet Naps and friends who don't care how you look).

For these chicken burgers, I wanted to duplicate the same intense hot sauce flavor of chicken wings. After some trial and error, I realized that simply shaking in a few drops of hot sauce into ground chicken wasn't going to cut it. The burgers were dry. Now, I know that most folks who choose chicken burgers do it to reap a leaner dish, but to make these super tasty...well, I'll just say it: these burgers are all about in-your-face flavor, not about saving a few calories. The first step towards moisture was to mix in a panade (a mixture of fresh bread crumbs and milk). To simulate the buttery hot sauce flavor and add juiciness, I stirred a few tablespoons of melted butter into the panade mixture, along with a moderate helping of hot sauce.

To cook the burgers, I originally planned on firing up an outdoor grill. But after losing a few of the tender burgers through the grates, I decided that the best way to keep 'em together was to simply toss them into a cast iron skillet or indoor grill pan. For an extra fiery hot burger, I brushed the tops with more hot sauce before I took them out of the pan.

And a spicy buffalo chicken burger would not be the same without the requisite blue cheese and celery. The thick blue cheese and chopped celery dressing is spooned on top; the perfect topping to cool off those burning lips.