Cuban-Style Picadillo Burgers with Mojo-Marinated Onions and Caramelized Plantains

Pairs well with:

Chenin Blanc

This wine is bursting with crisp, refreshing fruit flavors like apple, pear, and melon, making you want to swing your legs off a dock at sunset.

Growing up in South Florida, I learned to love the flavors of Latin America and the Caribbean. But nothing makes my heart sing — or bring on an immediate bout of homesickness — like the taste of Cuban food. Now that my husband and I live in beautiful upstate New York, I’ve had to come up with my own ways to get a taste of home. These burgers mimic the flavor profile of picadillo, a sweet-meets-salty saute of ground beef traditionally served with black beans and rice. Onions marinated in garlicky mojo and sinfully sweet plantains, both classic flavors of the Cuban table, provide an extra jolt of flavor. And for good measure, a few dill pickle slices thrown in, since what Cuban-style sandwich would be complete without them? Bienvenidos a Miami!


For Mojo-Marinated Onions:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
zest of one orange
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 small red onion, peeled, halved and sliced crosswise 1/8 inch thick

For Caramelized Plantains:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large very ripe plantain (blackened in spots), peeled and sliced on a diagonal into 12 equal slices

For Patties:
2 lb ground chuck
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives
11/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

vegetable oil, for brushing grill rack
6 good-quality hamburger buns, split
1/4 cup butter, softened
12 butter lettuce leaves
12 dill pickle slices


To make the mojo-marinated onions, pour the oil into a small fireproof saucepan. Add garlic. Place saucepan on grill rack. Heat oil and garlic until fragrant and just starting to soften, about 3-4 minutes (do not let garlic brown). Remove saucepan from grill and add orange juice, lime juice, orange zest, cumin, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine well. Add onion slices, stirring to coat. Transfer onions with marinade to a medium-sized bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.

To make the caramelized plantains, pour the oil into a 10-inch, non-stick, fireproof skillet. Place skillet on grill rack and heat oil for about 4-5 minutes or until hot. Place plantains cut side down in skillet in a single layer and cook, about 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and caramelized. Remove to a paper towel-lined platter. Repeat with remaining plantains if necessary. Tent platter with foil to keep plantains warm and set aside.

To make the patties, place the ground chuck into a large bowl. Chop the raisins and olives and add to bowl with meat. Add cumin, ground cloves, salt and pepper to bowl and mix gently by hand until just combined. Divide the mixture into six equal portions, then form the portions into patties. Brush grill rack lightly with vegetable oil. Place patties on rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 5-6 minutes each side for medium. During the last few minutes of cooking, spread the cut sides of each bun half with an equal portion of the butter and place on outer perimeter of grill, toasting lightly.

To assemble burgers, place 2 lettuce leaves on each toasted bun bottom. Top with 2 dill pickle slices, patty, 2 plantain slices and an equal portion of the marinated onions. Place top half of buns on burgers and serve.