Frita with Manchego, Mayo Pimenton and Shoestrings
Coming from Tampa, no matter your background, you are exposed to many Latin flavors in cooking. The Ybor City area is especially proud of it’s Cuban cuisine. I have since lived in many areas of Florida, and continue to seek out traditional food items to Americanize! This Cuban burger is normally fried and seasoned with paprika and raw onion. Here it is grilled, and benefits from a good cheese and cooked onion and some jazzed up fixin’s. One curious topping that keeps it atraditional Frita, yet also makes it such a great American Burger is the shoestring fries!
2 medium russet potatoes, washed and peeled
3 cups peanut or vegetable oil
1/3 cup bacon fat drippings
3/4 cup quality prepared mayonnaise
1 & 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 clove fresh pressed garlic
1 medium red ripe best quality tomato, chopped
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup prepared ketchup
1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro
1 cup fresh white (Cuban if available) bread crumbs
1/3 cup evaporated (or whole) milk
6 quality bakery burger buns
5 tablespoons of Colavita olive oil
2 medium/large Spanish onions, peeled, halved, and sliced thin
2 husky cloves fresh garlic, pressed, for burgers, PLUS one peeled for buns
1 & 3/4 lb freshly ground chuck with with 20 to 23% fat
2 teaspoons kosher salt, PLUS 1/2 teaspoon for fries
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, PLUS 1/2 teaspoon for fries
Tablespoon cooking oil for grate
9 oz. quality Manchego cheese, in 6 slices
For potato topping: Slice potatoes into thin shoestring sized fries a bit smaller than fast food fare. Place into a medium bowl and rinse well. Cover with water and ice and set aside to chill. Place oil and bacon fat into large heavy (iron is good) skillet. Heat over medium-high heat on grate or side burner until 360 degrees. Drain and pat fries dry with paper towels, cook for about 3 minutes until light blond in color. Do in two batches. Drain, and lightly form soft fries into 6 small bun sized nests and set aside. Save skillet with oil.
For Mayo Pimenton: In small bowl of food processor, process mayo with paprika and garlic for 30 seconds, stir ad pulse a few times, cover and chill.
For Fresh Tomato Ketchup: In small bowl, salt and pepper tomatoes and toss with ketchup, and cilantro cover and set aside.
For Burgers: Stir bread crumbs and milk together in a small bowl, set aside. Split buns and brush cut sides with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in another large heavy skillet with onions and heat while stirring over medium heat for 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring as needed for 20 minutes or until nicely caramelized, stir in garlic and remove from heat. Place into a large mixing bowl, cool slightly, cut up large pieces, add beef and using fork lightly mix with salt, pepper, and soaked bread crumbs. Form into 6 patties a fraction larger than bun. Brush grate with tablespoon of cooking oil. When grill is medium-hot, grill burgers for 3-4 minutes per side, or until desired temperature, top with cheese during last minute, remove and keep warm. Meanwhile, grill buns cut side down until lightly toasted, remove and rub toasted sides with clove of garlic.
To Build: Return oil to 360 degrees and return nests of fries to skillet, fry for another 2 minutes or until lightly golden, remove to paper towels, salt, and pepper. Spread top and bottom buns with mayo, add burger to bottom bun, top with a nest of fries and then a portion of the ketchup. Serves 6.