Time Traveling from Marta’s Cuban American Kitchen

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I close my eyes and take one bite and suddenly I am unstuck in time …
I’m in the heart of the city, which means I get to enjoy something amazing from one of the street vendors.
By “the city,” I mean Havana, 1960.
By “something amazing,” I mean a Cuban Frita.
Small. Sweet, yet spicy. With that crunchy crown of light-as-angel’s-hair shoestring potatoes.
I think they were maybe a nickel apiece.
“Can I have two?” (Not because I was still hungry, but just for the taste.)
Chased by an ice cold Coca-Cola, another special treat.
I am 5 years old once again, shopping with my mother on the boulevard of the most beautiful city in the world.
Oops. I’m sorry. I was gone for a moment there, but I’m back now. 😉
Try this recipe and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that time travel is indeed possible. But I swear, it’s completely impossible to eat just one. =D
Frita Cubana
3 packages dinner rolls
2 cloves garlic
¼ onion
¼ green bell pepper
1 lb. Ground beef
½ lb. Ground pork sausage
½ cup bread crumbs
¼ cup milk
2 Tbsp. Chili sauce (or you can substitute red cocktail sauce)
1 Tbsp. sweet Spanish paprika (pimenton)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. cumin
1 beaten egg
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
Vegetable oil for frying
2 large potatoes, peeled and finely grated (yep! Just like you would grate cheese.)
Tomato paste
1) Preheat oven to 300.
2) Slice up the dinner rolls down the middle of the entire pack.
3) Place on a cookie sheet in the oven to warm.
4) In a food processor, using the pulse feature, mix together the garlic, onion and bell pepper until minced.
5) In a large bowl, mix together beef, pork sausage, bread crumbs, milk, chili sauce, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, beaten egg, pepper and salt.
6) Add the minced garlic, onion and pepper to the meat mixture.
7) Mix everything together by hand, and form meat into golf ball sized patties. Press down and set aside.
For the fried grated potatoes – You can substitute canned shoestring potatoes for these, but those are not to be found in my neighborhood, and besides, homemade grated potatoes are what make these fritas The Real Deal.)
1) Heat up about 2 inches on vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.
2) Fry up the potatoes (as many as will fit in one layer) to a golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon or spatula. Drain on paper towels and salt lightly.
1) While the potatoes are frying, coat the bottom of another large skillet with vegetable oil and heat to fry up the patties. Press down with a spatula to flatten. Cook about 3 minutes per side. They should be cooked through, but still juicy.
Assemble the fritas as follows:
1) Remove the dinner rolls from the oven and open.
2) Spread a little tomato paste (that’s right! NOT ketchup) on bottom half of each roll.
3) Place the cooked patty on top.
4) Heap on the fried potatoes – do not skimp here – this is what gives them their crunchy goodness!
5) Close the top and serve – preferably with some plantain or yuca chips and garlic dip.
Makes about 36.
Chase it with an ice cold Coke and just close your eyes. See what I mean?
Now, I DARE you to eat just one. =D

7 thoughts on “Time Traveling from Marta’s Cuban American Kitchen”

  1. this is killer. what sausage do you use? The dried spanish sausage? do you use a mixture of different beef for this? I always grind my own stuff and use a combo of sirloin and chuck or sometimes even skirt steak.
    I think I will make this this weekend. Looks awesome….

  2. Cigar Mike-
    Because I’m in So Cal, I get a chorizo at the local Mexican market. The beef is good old ground chuck. Somehow the less expensive the cut, the more authentic it tastes. =D

  3. marta
    is the chorizo you get like the spanish one? which is full of paprika? or regular chorizo similar to the argentinian? I get all types of chorizo here too including cured dry spanish and the uncooked raw. I routinely grind both types into my burgers. I’m just curious cause since you use paprika in the recipe, if the chorizo you use has a lot of it, then I may reduce the quantity.
    You should seriously publish a book. you have great pics and your recipies are easy to follow and remind me of abuela and not the pompous chef at the fancy shmancy sobe restuarant ….that does not taste anything like authentic cuban

  4. Mike-
    The chorizo I get is pretty plain (think Argentinian), so I have to add the strong spicy Spanish paprika. You could probably omit it completely if you get the Spanish chorizo that already has the pimenton.
    I use the plain meats and add the spices because I’m trying to re-create the original taste I remember.
    Hope this helps.
    Thanks for the kind words. I just might have to go on a Publisher Hunt. =D

  5. Marta, Cigar Mike is correct. You should publish a recipe book. All your recipes are easy to understand and they taste like real Cuban food. Every one of the recipes I have tried have been a big hit with my family. I will be making fritas this sunday for brunch and I’m even going to make some extra crispy grated potatoes to put on some hot dogs with bits of onions, just like the ones they made at Morro Castle on NW 7 Street here in Miami many, many years ago. I had tried to make the potatoes like that before but they were not quite there, but I think your recipe will definately work. I’m getting hungry!

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