RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Medianoche Burgers

My family moved from New England to Florida when I was 12 years old. The mix of cultures in Florida was quite different from what I was used to. But that was nothing compared to the 4 years I lived in Miami while attending medical school just after Hurricane Andrew. The combination of Carribbean cultures and tropical ingredients made Miami like no other place I’d been to, and often felt like you had gone to another country. The dominant immigrant culture is without a doubt Cuban, and Cuban street cuisine was the inspiration for this burger. The Cuban Sandwich, or Medianoche (for "midnight") can be found at every cafeteria in Miami, I think. This is just a very traditional Medianoche Sandwich, compete with the pressing of the Cuban bread, with an American twist of adding a hamburger patty to the middle—after the bread is pressed of course, so as not to lose the juiciness of the burger. I think this represents a perfect combination of Cuban-American sandwich cuisine, and I hope you’ll agree.

Ingredients 

2.5 lbs ground chuck (80% lean)
2T Sazon Completa (latin all purpose seasoning mix)
Plastic wrap, for shaping burgers
Cuban bread loaves, sliced into 6x5" pieces
1/2 lb unsalted butter, softened
Yellow mustard
18 slices baby Swiss cheese (about ½ lb)
Deli (Spanish if available) roast pork, sliced thinly (about 1/3-½ lb)
Deli ham, sliced thinly (about 1/3-½ lb)
Dill pickle sandwich slices (12)
Aluminum foil, for wrapping sandwiches
Grill spray
Large cast iron pan or clean bricks for weighting down sandwiches on the grill

Instructions 

Mix meat with sazon completa. Separate into 6 equal portions. Using plastic wrap as an aid, shape into 6 rectangles, each slightly larger than the pieces of Cuban bread. Set aside.
Cut Cuban bread pieces into halves lengthwise, but don’t separate completely. Butter each half, inside and outside, will require about 2 T of butter per sandwich. Place on a piece of foil large enough wrap around sandwich. Then add yellow mustard (about 1.5 t per side), and spread evenly. Place one slice of cheese on each piece of bread, trimming or folding over to fit if necessary. Then on one side of sandwich, top cheese with a layer of roasted pork slices. Top the other side with a layer of ham slices. Place 2 pickles lengthwise between the meat layers. Close the sandwich and wrap tightly in foil.
Heat the grill to medium high. Spray grates with non stick grill spray. Grill burgers 3-4 minutes per side or until medium rare. Top each burger with a slice of Swiss cheese and allow to melt. Remove from grill and keep burgers warm. Meanwhile place each foil wrapped sandwich on the grill (may have to do in batches). Cook for 2-3 minutes per side while pressing down on sandwiches with a heavy pan. Flip over and repeat on other side. Sandwiches should be about 1 ½" thick after flattening. Unwrap foil and separate sandwich completely into 2 sides, place one burger on the bottom half of each sandwich and place other half on top. Slice diagonally and enjoy.
Serves 6.