Frita Cubana–the Cuban hamburger. This tasty bite was originated in Cuba in the 1920’s or 1930’s. Vendors with little carts would roam around the streets and plazas selling these fritas. Immigrants later brought these Cuban burgers to Miami, Florida in the 1960’s. Though I’m sure if you ask anyones grandfather in Miami, they’ll say they were the ones who not only brought it over, but invented it! Ahhh Cuban humor. ;D
The frita is composed of 50% ground beef and 50% Spanish chorizo, or ground pork. What makes this burger special is the smoked and sweet paprika flavors. This recipe is so simple, it is hard to believe that the only spices are salt, black ground pepper, and paprika.
The frita is traditionally topped with ketchup, shoestring potatoes, and diced raw onion. Yes, that’s it, but don’t be discouraged by the few ingredients. Trust me–these fritas pack a ton a flavor.
If you’re ever in South Florida, be sure and check out one of the many places that makes them. Bobby Flay named El Rey De Las Fritas (The King of Fritas), one of the top places to eat. Although, this recipe will be pretty close to theirs. You can make these palm sized burgers ahead of time, wrap them in wax paper, and freeze them for the weekend, or anytime.
The frita bun is a Cuban bread bun made specifically for certain types of sandwiches and frita burgers, but a regular burger bun works well too. If you can find the Cuban bun at your local bakery, well, you’re in luck!
There are variants to the recipe everywhere. Some places add cheese, or even lettuce. That is not an authentic frita. I will say, that there are a few restaurants that top their fritas with spiralized potatoes instead of the shoestring potatoes. They are delicious as well. If you have the time to spiralize and fry a few red or russet potatoes, by all mean try it. These burgers can also be turned into little slider appetizers for your next gathering. Your friends will love them.
These little burgers are very reminiscent of home. I love making them for the kids and I. Turn on some salsa music and–ayyy party time! Let’s eat.
Here is the recipe:
- ½ Lb ground beef (lean ground beef)
- ½ Lb ground pork
- 2 Tbsp of smoked paprika
- 2 Tbsp of sweet paprika
- ½ Tbsp of salt
- ½ Tbsp of black ground pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced small, raw
- Ketchup, to taste
- 2 Tbsp of canola oil (to fry the fritas)
- 1 pack of burger buns (no sesame seeds)
- 1 can of shoestring potatoes (potato sticks)
- Combine the ground beef and ground pork. Mix well for even texture and flavor. You can use a food processor to mix the meat. I do it by hand.
- Add the salt, black ground pepper, smoked paprika and sweet paprika. Combine all the spices into the meat mixture until it is well incorporated.
- Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper to place the formed patties.
- Scoop a bit of meat and roll it on the palm of your hand to form a medium sized meatball. Then with your other palm, press down on the meat to form a half inch thick patty.
- Place a large cast iron skillet on medium heat and add the canola oil.
- Fry the frita patties for 4-5 minutes on each side to create a nice seared crust on them.
- The fritas should be cooked to a medium well inside temperature, or to at least 160° F.
- Once cooked, place them on a paper towel to absorb some of the fat from the pork. Do not pat them down. Let them rest to reconstitute the juices.
- Place the frita on the bun, add ketchup and top with the raw onions, and shoestring potatoes.