Fritas (Cuban Hamburgers)
~Chef Perry Perkins~
Created by Cuban immigrants in South Florida, the frita is now a classic piece of Southern food Americana.
A thin 1/4lb beef patty (typically cooked on a griddle) with a heavily spiced ketchup sauce, and always topped with crispy shoe-string fries.
I make a modified version on my La Caja China grill with a seasoned pork and beef, mixed with chorizo.
In 1961, Dagoberto Estevil opened a stand in Little Havana, and brought the Frita to Miami. According to legend, fritas originated in a Cuban sausage factory, as a quick, convenient lunch for workers.
These Cuban burgers make great appetizers, when grilled slider-size, as well.
1 lb ground beef
½ lb ground pork
¼ C bread crumbs
3 Tbs minced onion
2 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
12oz curly fries, cooked
½ lb Cuban chorizo
1/4 C milk
1/3 tsp paprika
1 tsp Worcester sauce
Six soft white rolls
Combine all the ground meat and chorizos. Soak bread crumbs in milk, beat eggs and add to the milk together with all the remaining ingredients.
Add to the meat mixture and mix well using the hands. Shape into six patties. Place them in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Lightly oil La Caja China grill, and lay on the patties above a solid bed of hot coals (you can hold your hand at grill level only 1 to 2 seconds).
Grill 2-3 minutes per side, until just medium rare.
Remove from heat and allow to rest on a rack 3-5 minutes. Serve on toasted rolls topped with crisp shoestring fries, and a generous squirt of Frita Sauce (recipe below.)
There is a big difference between Cuban chorizo and Mexican chorizo. Mexican chorizo has a grainier texture and tends to fall apart when you split the casing where as Cuban chorizo has more of a solid sausage texture. Also, Cuban chorizo has no hot peppers, and is packed with lots of fresh cilantro.
Crispy Shoestring Potatoes
Matchstick potatoes deep-fried until golden brown then perfectly seasoned. Simple, delicious and addicting.
Heat oil to 350F.
Wash and peel the potatoes, removing any dark spots.
Slice potatoes into matchsticks (a mandolin slicer comes in handy here!)
Place matchsticks in ice water for 15 minutes, then remove and place on paper towels, and pat to dry. (The dryer the potatoes, the less splattering oil you'll have to deal with.)
Carefully add the potatoes (1-cup at a time) to the oil and stir to separate.
NOTE: for your own safety...do NOT add too many potatoes to the oil at one time.
Fry 3-4 minutes or until golden brown (keeping the oil as close to 350F as possible.) Stir often.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes to a metal bowl, and toss with salt and black pepper.
Repeat process until all potatoes are fried.
2 oz. Ketchup
1 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup orange juice
1 tsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. Sriracha
Combine the ketchup, orange juice, paprika, cumin, brown sugar, vinegar, salt and sriracha in a small sauce pan. Heat to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Simmer 15 minutes until sauce has thickened.
Allow to cool.
As a third-generation chef, Perry P. Perkins focuses his love of cooking on barbeque, traditional southern fare, and fresh Northwest cuisine.
Perry runs the non-profit organization, MY KITCHEN Outreach Program, which teaches nutrition, shopping, and hands on cooking classes for at risk youth.
His cookbooks include La Caja China Cooking, La Caja China World, La Caja China Party, and the NEW “La Caja China Grill.”
You can follow the rest of Chef Perry’s cooking adventures at ChefPerryPerkins.com