Cook’s Corner: Fritas are a hamb...

Cook’s Corner: Fritas are a hamburger-like treat with special Cuban twists

There are 7 comments on the The Macon Telegraph story from Jun 12, 2012, titled Cook’s Corner: Fritas are a hamburger-like treat with special Cuban twists. In it, The Macon Telegraph reports that:

QUESTION: The original Cuban fritas is served with very fine cut fries. Very few places make them the old fashioned way.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at The Macon Telegraph.

“Abbiamo Vinto”

Since: Feb 12

Location hidden

#1 Jun 13, 2012
QUESTION: The original Cuban fritas (hamburger) is served with very fine cut (not julianna) fries. Very few places make them the old fashioned way. Could you find the name of the fries, how to make them, and the original recipe for the fritas?

-- Efrain

ANSWER: There is little mention of the history of fritas in my collection of Cuban cookbooks. Some food writers claim fritas were simply an attempt to take basic American hamburgers and make them taste more palatable. But it seems the frita definitely originated in Cuba. In her cookbook/memoir “A Taste of Old Cuba”(Harper-Collins, 1994) Maria Josefa Lluria de O’Higgins recalls that fritas were eaten “on the go” in Cuba.“I remember them being sold on the sidewalks in Havana and in the crowds at sporting events the way hot dogs are sold at Yankee Stadium. As a youngster, I enjoyed what to me was the great luxury of buying fritas during the national regattas in Varadero from vendors who would set up little make-shift shops across the street from our elegant Club Nautico.

The most definitive history I’ve found is by Florida blogger Sef Gonzalez, at .

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“Abbiamo Vinto”

Since: Feb 12

Location hidden

#2 Jun 13, 2012
“The frita is mostly found in South Florida but its origins are from 1930s Cuba where it was street food. Carts with propane fueled stoves lined the street selling fritas to customers. At least one of the Rey De Las Fritas in Miami has a picture of a frita cart in Cuba. Dagoberto Estevil is believed to have brought the frita to Miami in 1961 when he brought it to Little Havana (Eighth Street at 12th). He named his restaurant Fritas Domino. That location is no longer open but a Fritas Domino does exist on Eighth Street and 67th Avenue in Miami, opened by one of Estevil’s children in the late 1980s.”

As to the authentic recipe, interpretations vary widely. But it is clear that you start with a ground meat patty -- be it beef, or with additions of either pork or chorizo. The meat is always seasoned with a lot of smoky paprika and often cumin. After grilling, it is always tucked into a bun or toasted and buttered Cuban bread and topped with very, very thin fried shoestring potatoes and either cooked or raw onion. Finally, it usually has a “secret” sauce that ranges from simple Thousand Island dressing to complicated cooked reductions that are spooned on top (and sometimes the dressing is incorporated in the raw meat patty, too.

Many highly celebrated cooks get it all wrong. For example, Ingrid Hoffmann of Simply Delicioso on the Food Network calls a hamburger patty splashed with lime and served on a Cuban roll with plenty of ketchup a frita. But at least more Americans are embracing Cuban foods: Morningstar Farms even has a vegetarian version of fritas: You brush the veggie patty with orange juice, paprika, cumin and garlic powder, and serve with cheese, tomato, onion and pickle in bun.

A note on the fries: Most versions call for convenient canned potato sticks. But if you are ambitious the better taste comes from deep frying finely grated raw potatoes. A simpler alternative is to buy frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, separate the shreds as best you can, then deep fry.(Be careful -- they brown very quickly).

I have tried many fritas recipes over the years, but the one I keep going back to -- it is even better than my own version published in 2005 -- is by Three Guys from Miami. Jorge Castillo, Raul Musibay and Glenn Lindgren write the celebrated food and travel blogs at and are the authors of two definitive cookbooks:“Three Guys from Miami Cook Cuban” and “Three Guys from Miami Celebrate Cuban”(Gibbs Smith).

I found the colorful and deliciously different slaw recipe in a collection of summer recipes at . Besides being a perfect no-cook side for all kinds of grilled fare, I love the fact that there is no mayo and no cholesterol in this slaw -- and as a bonus, a serving provides 93 percent of the daily value of Vitamin C, 70 percent of Vitamin A and 19 percent of dietary fiber

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“Abbiamo Vinto”

Since: Feb 12

Location hidden

#3 Jun 13, 2012


1 pound ground beef

3/4 pound ground pork

4 cloves garlic, mashed and finely minced

1/3 cup onion, grated

2 tablespoons ketchup

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons sweet Spanish paprika

Salt and pepper cooked patties to taste

6-8 American-style hamburger or steak buns


6-8 cups freshly fried shoestring potatoes

Sliced raw onion, optional

Glenn’s Not-So-Secret Sauce

Makes eight servings.

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“Abbiamo Vinto”

Since: Feb 12

Location hidden

#4 Jun 13, 2012
Use a food processor with a chopping blade to grind together the meats, the minced garlic, and the onion. Blend in the ketchup, cumin, and paprika.

Remove the meat mixture from the food processor and form by hand into round thin patties. Cook on a flat griddle or in a frying pan.

Fritas should be cooked to medium well done, but don’t overcook -- they should still be nice and juicy. When the frita is just about cooked through, reduce heat to medium low, squirt on some secret sauce, and let the patties cook just a minute longer.

While the fritas are frying, use a deep fat fryer or frying pan with a couple inches of vegetable oil to fry the shoestring potatoes. Drain on paper towels and lightly salt. Keep warm. Serve each frita on a traditional American hamburger bun. IMPORTANT: Splash plenty of Glenn’s Not-So-Secret Sauce on the bun and the patty. The sauce is an essential ingredient in this recipe!

Place the patty on the bun, cover with some sliced onion (if you like), and pile high with fresh, hot, shoe-string style fried potatoes -- yes, inside the bun, ON TOP of the meat! Splash a little extra secret sauce on the fries, you’ll be glad you did! Serve with additional fries on the plate.

Nutritional information per serving: 587 calories (45 percent from fat), 29 grams fat (12 grams saturated, 16 grams monounsaturated), 77.6 milligrams cholesterol, 30.5 grams protein, 50.8 grams carbohydrates, 2.1 grams fiber, 846 milligrams sodium.


1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons sweet Spanish paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup white vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

Makes about 1 1/3 cups, 10 servings.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a two-quart saucepan.

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“Abbiamo Vinto”

Since: Feb 12

Location hidden

#5 Jun 13, 2012
Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Use generously in the Frita Cubana recipe above. Store any leftovers in refrigerator.

Nutritional information per serving: 40 calories (4 percent from fat), 0.2 gram fat (no saturated, no monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 0.8 grams protein, 8.9 grams carbohydrates, 0.9 grams fiber, 368 milligrams sodium.


1/2 small head cabbage, washed and finely shredded (about 4 cups)

2 small carrots, peeled and shredded

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 small sweet bell pepper, diced in 1/4-inch pieces

3/4 cup natural or golden raisins, divided

1/2 cup cubed fresh or frozen and thawed mango

1/2 cup cubed fresh or frozen and thawed papaya

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

Makes eight servings.

Combine cabbage, carrots, onions, bell pepper, 1/2 cup of the raisins, mango and papaya in large bowl. Mix sugar, olive oil and lime juice in small bowl. Add to vegetables and fruit and mix thoroughly. Turn into a serving bowl and garnish with cilantro and remaining 1/4 cup raisins.

Nutritional information per serving: 135 calories (33 percent from fat), 5.3 grams fat (0.8 grams saturated, 3.7 grams monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 1.8 grams protein, 22.7 grams carbohydrates, 3.2 grams fiber, 25 milligrams sodium.

Sun-Maid celebration

Sun-Maid, the world’s largest processor of raisins and dried fruits, is celebrating its 100th anniversary by offering a free eBook,“Sun-Maid Raisins & Dried Fruits: Serving American Families & the World Since 1912.” A digital edition of the print book created by London-based publisher Dorling Kindersley earlier this year, the eBook is available to download for free at and through the iTunes store.

Sleuth’s corner

QUESTION: In the past I’ve helped your readers find lost recipes, and maybe now they can help me. Years ago, in the mid 1990s, the former Firehouse Restaurant in the Brickell area of Miami had a Key Lime Chicken on their menu. Can anyone provide a recipe?

-- Gwin, Miami Springs, Fla.

Send questions and responses to or Food, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132.

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Orlando Leone Jr

Newton, NJ

#6 Jun 13, 2012
Viva Espana!

United States

#7 Jun 13, 2012
Orlando Leone Jr wrote:
Viva Espana!
Saludio mi dotol y que viva Espana!
Ya pa paresel espanol me compre una bota de vino y una boina,pero hay un Cubano amigo mio que me vio con la boina y dice que paresco un toti con sombrero!
Dotol acuelde de olvidalse de esa baina de la depoltacion!

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