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Cuban-style Pork Burger with Sweet Plantains

This burger is a perfect melding of Cuban flavors with an all-American classic, a burger. It represents who I am…a Cuban-American female who has lived in Miami all her life. Growing up as an American, yet whose culture and language are so alive in South Florida, makes it almost second nature to incorporate Cuban flavors in my cooking. My three children can very well ask for Macaroni and Cheese for dinner on one night, and Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice) another night. I love who I am, and want to impart that same love for our culture and respect for the country where I live to my children. Cooking is the best way I know how!

The traditional pork, maduros (sweet plantains), garlic, and lime, which are all at the heart of Cuban cuisine, come together to make a delicious, savory burger with a hint of sweetness.


Maduros (ripe plantains)

2 very ripe plantains, almost black
Cooking oil for frying
Pinch of salt

Mojo (Garlic-citrus sauce)

3 medium garlic cloves
2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 sprigs fresh oregano
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt

Pork Patties

2 pounds ground pork
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cracker meal (or finely crushed unsalted crackers)
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup green olives stuffed with pimientos, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt

3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing on grill rack and brushing on bread buns
6 Cuban-bread buns, split (or 1 loaf of Cuban bread cut into 6 equal parts, split)
6 romaine lettuce leaves
6 slices of Havarti cheese


Preheat a gas grill to medium-high and set grill side burner to medium-high heat.

To make maduros: In a medium fireproof skillet, pour just enough oil to cover the bottom by ½ inch. Place skillet on side burner. Meanwhile, peel the plantains and cut into thin, diagonal slices. Once oil in skillet is hot (a drop of water will sizzle), place the plantains and fry until toasted on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side). Set on paper lined plate until ready to assemble burger. Sprinkle maduros lightly with salt.

To make the mojo sauce: In a food processor, combine all ingredients until well blended. Pour in small bowl and set aside.

To make the pork patties: In a large bowl, combine all ingredients until well combined. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form into patties to fit the bun.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with oil. Place the patties on the rack and cover. Grill patties for about 6-7 minutes per side, during the last minute of grilling place a slice of cheese on each patty.

To toast the buns: During the last minutes of grilling, lightly brush the cut-side of the buns with oil and place cut side down on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble burgers from bottom and working to top: Drizzle a small amount of mojo on bun bottom, top with lettuce, place a patty on lettuce, top patty with two to three maduros (sweet plantains), and drizzle mojo over top. Add the bun tops and serve. Que Delicioso!

Makes 6 burgers


**Sweet, ripe plantains or available in most Latin grocery markets. If unavailable, you can substitute with frozen ones and prepare as directed on package. Once heated, slice each maduro on the bias as thinly as possible.