RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Carmen’s Puertorriqueno Burgers

I’m from Puerto Rico and although we’re not a state, we’re proud to be American!. So I wanted to create a burger that accurately captures authentic Puerto Rican food. My burger contains lots of great Puerto Rican ingredients. A beef and smoked ham burger is glazed with Puerto Rican rum and guava and is then topped with Queso Blanco cheese, a tomato slice, and banana slices served on potato buns smeared with Sofrito (an omnipresent Puerto Rican condiment made up of peppers, onions, garlic, and some culantro). If you like Puerto Rican food (or even if you’ve never had Puerto Rican food), then you’ll love this burger!


Rum Guava Glaze:
2 cups guava nectar
1 cup Puerto Rican rum

1 green pepper, stem removed, seeded, and chopped
1 red pepper, stem removed, seeded, and chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 fresh culantro leaves, chopped (can substitute 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 3/4 pounds ground chuck
1/4 pound smoked ham, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 potato buns, cut in half lengthwise
1 large banana, thinly sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
6 ounces Queso Blanco, crumbled (can substitute six slices Monterey Jack)
6 slices tomato


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

To make Rum Guava Glaze, place guava nectar and rum in a fireproof saucepan. Place on the grill and reduce by two-thirds. Set aside.

To make Sofrito, in the bowl of a food processor, combine green pepper, red pepper, onion, garlic, culantro, and extra-virgin olive oil; pulse until finely chopped (not pureed). Set aside.

To make the patties, combine the beef, ham, cumin, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Handling the meat 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.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, just until done, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare; while cooking baste often with the Rum Guava Glaze. 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 the burgers, spread a generous amount of sofrito on the cut sides of the buns. On each bun bottom, place a few slices of banana, a patty, equal amounts of Queso Blanco, and a slice of tomato. Add the bun tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers.