RECIPES: Recipe Details

Rate This Burger 
No votes yet

Annatto-Garlic Crusted Hamburguesas Boricua with Panela Picadillo

My mother was raised in Puerto Rico. It seems Puertoriccan dishes are often overlooked but they are very tasty. People often assume that Cuban and Puertoriccan foods are identical but Puerto Rico has some unique dishes. One popular dish is the pastelillo which is a fried turnover filled with meat combined with raisins, capers, and green olives. I tried to incorporate the same flavors of my mother's beloved pastelillos into this burger recipe. Hamburguesa is what a burger is called in Puerto Rico. Boricua is the affectionate term for Puerto Rico by Puertoriccans. It was the original Taino Indian name for the island. Annatto is a popular seed in Puerto Rico which is used mostly for coloring rice yellow (cheaper than saffron). Some say annatto has no taste but it does add a mild oomphh I've found.


Annatto-Garlic Rub
2 tablespoons freshly ground annatto (achiote) seeds
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground round
1/2 pound ground pork
1 small papaya (about 1 pound) coarsely chopped; top, rind, and seeds removed
20 pimento stuffed green olives, slices into fourths, then halved 1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 12 ounce wheel Panela Cheese divided in half (1/2 is for the patties, reserve the remaining half for the Picadillo)
Panela Picadillo:
The remaining half of the 12 ounce wheel Panela cheese
1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
20 cherry tomatoes, quartered
remaining ingredients:
Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for brushing the grill rack
6 Kaiser rolls, split
6 red leaf lettuce leaves


Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover. To make the Annatto-Garlic Rub, thoroughly combine the annatto, garlic powder, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside until needed. To make the patties, combine the ground round, pork, papaya, green olives, raisins, and capers, handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns. Cut the 12 ounce wheel of Panela cheese in half. Refrigerate the other half for later use. Cut the 1/2 wheel of the Panela into 6 roughly equal blocked portions. Push one Panela block each into the middle of each patty until the block is thoroughly covered and not visible. Sprinkle the Garlic-Annatto Rub onto all sides of each patty. Carefully pat the Rub evenly onto the burger, avoid pressing heavily to keep from compacting the meat. When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with the olive oil. Place the patties on the middle of the rack, cover, and grill, turning once, until done to preference, 7 to 9 minutes on each side for medium. Sprinkle the patties with any remaining Rub. While the burgers are cooking, make the Panela Picadillo. Thoroughly crumble the remaining half of the Panela cheese wheel in a medium bowl, then add the onion and tomatoes, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate until needed. During the last 2 minutes of the patties cooking, place the cut sides of the Kaiser rolls on the outer portions of the rack to toast lightly. To assemble the burgers, place a red leaf lettuce leaf on the toasted cut side of each bun bottom, followed by the patty and a generous scoop Panela Picadillo, dividing it equally among the 6 burgers. Add the bun tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers.


I just easily grind my annatto seeds in a pepper mill. Annatto seeds and Panela cheese are found in most supermarkets. The annatto is usally in the Hispanic section or specialty sections and the Panela is with the Hispanic cheeses usally alongiside the other cheeses in the dairy department.