The Cuban Frita burger is a food fantasy come true. A juicy, well-seasoned pork and beef hamburger is piled high with crisp shoestring fries and onions, slathered in smokey spicy ketchup, and packed into a toasted bun. If you like a good burger, this one will knock your socks off!
A Little History of the Cuban Frita Burger
Some time in the early to mid 1900's (the exact decade is unclear) Frita burgers became a popular street food in Havana Cuba. Back in the day, the frita was cooked by friteros (frita makers) and sold at sidewalk puestos (food stalls). As legend has it, meat was scarce after Castro became president, and frita cooks started adding more and more flour to the meat mixture and decreasing the amount of meat, until the frita burger became so sticky and tasteless, it fell out of favor.
In the early 1960's, the original meaty frita burger found its way to the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami where it had a resurgence in popularity. Today you can enjoy frita burgers at many Miami cafes. And when you're not in Miami, you can make this fun, tasty burger at home.
How To Make Cuban Fritas
Here's how to make authentic, flavor-packed Cuban frita burgers.
- The frita burger is made from a mixture of ground pork and ground beef. Some variations use chorizo instead of ground pork. To season the meat, mix in ketchup, onions, garlic, cumin, salt and a good amount of Pimentón, the smokey Spanish paprika that gives the frita its distinctive flavor.
- Form the meat mixture into thin patties and cook them on a flat griddle or in a skillet. Frita burgers are best when cooked to medium rare or medium, so they're nice and brown on the outside, juicy and flavorful inside.
- To assemble the frita burger, place it on a toasted bun, spread special sauce on top and some finely chopped raw onions and a heap of shoestring fries. (Yes, WOW!) The shoestring fries that are packed into the bun with the frita burger, are crisp, salty and golden brown. They remind me of French's Potato Sticks, one of my favorite childhood snacks. In fact, if you don't feel like frying potatoes, I'm sure French's will work well as a substitute.
- The special sauce is SOOOO delicious! Definitely a key flavor component of this epic burger. It starts with ketchup, which is mixed with vinegar, salt and Cuban spices: paprika, cumin and oregano, and a dash of sriracha for heat.
You can make the meat mixture for fritas in a big bowl, kneading it by hand, or in the food processor (as I did). If you do it by hand be sure to chop the onions and garlic extra fine.
If you have a deep fryer, you will be able to fry up the shoestring potatoes quickly. If not you can shallow fry them in batches, in a frying pan.
I discovered the frita Cubana in my own backyard. My son Paul and his girlfriend Nicollet cooked dinner for us one night, as they often like to do when they come to visit. Nic had heard about the frita Cubana and thought it sounded delicious so she wanted to try it out. After one bite I asked Nic if she would collaborate with me to get this blog-worthy burger up on Panning The Globe. We got to work the next day retracing her steps.
A big THANK YOU to Nicollet for helping me with this post. For more cooking inspiration check out Nic's Instagram where she documents her favorite culinary creations.
You may also like:
- Korean BBQ Burgers with Pickled Onions and Miso Mayonnaise
- Grilled Chicken Sliders with Chipotle Coleslaw
- Cuban Picadillo: Ground Beef Stew with Tomatoes, Vinegar and Olives
There's definitely some time and effort involved in making the frita Cubana burger but the payoff is big. As burgers go, these are exceptionally festive and delicious.
Here's the Frita Cubana Recipe. If you try this, I hope you'll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I'd love to know what you think!Print