Little Havana Picadillo Burger with Tropical Fruit-Tomato Relish and Chipotle Chili Aioli

Pairs well with:


Bright and full-bodied, this Zinfandel wine is a curious contradiction in tastes.

My inspiration for the Picadillo Burger (pronounced “pee-kah-dee-yo”) is from a traditional dish in many Latin –American countries, a seasoned ground beef, used many different ways and with many different versions, typically found in Puerto Rico, Cuba and Mexico. It is sometimes used as a filling, such as for tacos and empanadas. The Puerto Rican and Cuban versions include olives and on occasion, capers, or almonds, seasoned with cinnamon and ground cloves and is usually served with black beans and rice.
It has become a favorite here in South Florida, especially in Miami’s little Havana district, with several versions in different neighborhoods. We call the version with potatoes, “Cuban Hash” and the version served on Cuban buns, “Cuban Sloppy Joes”.
I decided that the version with olives and raisins, with a pinch of cinnamon and cloves would make a great Burger; the spices and raisins give it almost a Middle Eastern taste. Serve on Cuban buns, with a tropical fruit-tomato relish and chipotle chili aioli.


Tropical Fruit-Tomato Relish

1 large diced tomato
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 orange, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped mango
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
*1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted, (optional)
*The almonds are optional, because some people are allergic to nuts, and I didn’t want these individuals to feel that they couldn’t enjoy this delicious burger.
Chipotle Chili Aioli
1/2 cup mayonnaise ¼ cup sour-cream 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and finely diced 1 tablespoon adobo sauce, more if desired 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped pimento stuffed Spanish olives
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup Spanish onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Oil, for brushing grill rack
6 Cuban buns or soft hamburger buns
6 Iceberg lettuce leaves


� Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium high.

� To make the tropical fruit-tomato relish, combine the tomatoes, red onion, orange, mango, raisins, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Toss to blend well and set aside. Do not add almonds until just before serving.

� T0 make the chipotle chili aioli, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce and lime juice in a bowl, season with salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

� To make the patties, combine the beef, salt, black pepper, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne pepper, tomato paste, olives, raisins, onion and garlic in a large bowl. Handling the meat mixture 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.
� When grill is ready, brush the grill rack with oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium.
Meanwhile, place a small non-stick, fire-proof skillet on the outer edges of the grill, should be over medium heat, add the sliced almonds and toast until golden, season with salt. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

� To assemble burgers, spread the aioli over the cut sides of the buns. On each bun bottom, place a lettuce leaf and a patty. Add the toasted almonds to the fruit relish and toss to blend. Spoon an equal portion of the relish on top of each patty, add the bun tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers