Eat your hearts out Cuban sandwich shit talkers! From the controversy, we slip into a happy place where the undisputed burger of Cuba reigns king in Miami — the frita.
After successfully bringing back the scrapple to Philadelphia at last year’s Alex’s Lemonade Stand Great Chefs event hosted by Marc Vetri, Michael was inspired by the best frita-maker stateside for next Tuesday’s tasting for a cause.
We’re speaking of none other than El Mago de Las Fritas, on West Flagler in Little Havana. Michael named El Mago’s frita one of his top five burgers in Miami in a recent post on Serious Eats’ A Hamburger Today blog! He and executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith have collaborated on a macked-out version of their own complete with homemade components. Get the recipe below, and stay tuned for a demo the two will do for Breville and its webisode series, Thought for Food. Their version features homemade Cuban bread buns and shoestring potatoes, which are substituted below for store-bought — making for a more home-friendly burger (You can blame it on me!)
Frita Burger with Cuban Style Tomato Jam, Pickled Red Onions, Shoestring Potatoes on Toasted Cuban Bread
2 pounds fatty ground chuck (80/20)
1/2 pound hard spanish chorizo, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup white onion, finely diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 Cuban rolls, split and dry toasted
Tomato Jam (recipe below)
2 cups Pickled Red Onions (recipe below)
2 cups shoestring potatoes
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and gently hand shape the frita patties into 10 balls; 5-ounces each is about right. Don’t pack too tightly — you’re not making snowballs here. Too much pressure will make a tough frita.
Place a large griddle on 2 burners over medium-high heat. Place the fritas on the griddle and gently flatten the bottom of a spatula. Grill for 8 minutes per side for medium. Flip only once. Remove the burgers from the griddle and place each directly on the bottom of each roll.
To serve, spread a tablespoon of jam on the underside of the top of each roll stack each patty with with pickled onions and a generous heap of shoestring potatoes to close. Enjoy Miami’s best Cuban burger!
Yields 3 cups
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled and cored, seeds removed and chopped
2 cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
To peel the tomatoes, bring a stockpot filled with water to a rolling boil. Fill a large container with ice water. Core each tomato and cut a small x on the bottom of each tomato Working in batches submerge the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 seconds. Quickly remove them and place in ice water to stop the cooking process. Repeat this step until all the tomatoes are in the ice water. Once chilled, peel the skin off, cut the tomato in half and remove the seeds. Cut the into 1″ cubes.
In a small stainless steel saucepan, add the tomatoes along with all the ingredients. Bring the jam to a boil stirring often. Lower the heat to a simmer continue cooking for 2 1/2 – 3 hours. The jam is ready when most of the liquid is absorbed. Allow to cool completely.
This can be served at room temperature or cold right out of the refrigerator. Store the jam in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.
Pickled Red Onions
Yields 2 cups
2 cups unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 small red onions, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds and separated into individual rings
Combine the vinegar, 1 cup water, the sugar, bay leaves and mustard seeds in a medium nonreactive pot. Slowly bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Put the onions in a heat-proof non-reactive container, pour the liquid on top and toss to coat evenly; the onions should be completely submerged in the liquid. Cover and cool to room temperature. Chill before serving. The pickled onions keep for months stored covered in the refrigerator. Be sure to keep them completely submerged in the liquid.