A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from September 27, 2007
Cuban Hamburger (Frita)

A “Cuban hamburger” that’s served in Florida might look like a hamburger covered with shoestring potatoes, spiced with paprika and onion, and topped with mojito sauce.
The “Cuban hamburger” is similar to what’s been called a “Spanish hamburger” or picadillo, although these dishes are served and prepared somewhat differently.
Wikipedia: Cuban cuisine
Of note is a sandwich that became popular in 1930’s Cuba, the frita. This is considered to be a Cuban version of the American hamburger, although with significant changes that sets it aside. It is prepared with ground beef spiced with paprika and onion. The patties are made small and fried on a griddle. The patty is placed put in a small Cuban bread hamburger bun, topped with a mojito sauce and with freshly prepared shoestring french fries.
Wikipedia: Picadillo
Picadillo is a dish mainly consisting of ground beef (sometimes shredded beef or chicken) typically found in Cuba, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. In Mexico it is sometimes used as a filling, such as for tacos, and can be mixed with vegetables. It can also be prepared as a type of stew. In most other Latin American countries it consists of a common table from where people pick small beef pieces or other food such as french fries. The name comes from the Spanish word, “picar” which means “to chop”.
Picadillo is a traditional dish in many Latin American countries; it’s made with ground meat, tomatoes, and regional ingredients. The Cuban version includes olives and on occasion capers, omits chili powder, and is usually served with black beans and rice.
The classic recipe uses ground meat, boiled and cubed potatoes, raisins, slivered almonds, diced olives, allspice, salt, pepper, chopped serrano or jalapeno pepper, and sometimes a little chili
powder. This is all slowly simmered and served with hot flour tortillas.     
Three Guys from Miami
Glenn: Yes, but the place I’m thinking about puts the American fast food goliaths to shame. The place is called El Rey de las Fritas (The King of the Fritas) and it is a great place to stop in for a quick lunch or dinner.
Jorge: If you are in Little Havana and stop at that place with the Golden Arches, shame on you!
Glenn: You can eat plenty of McBurgers at home.
Jorge: Instead, why not try a Cuban hamburger?
Glenn: The Cuban hamburger, called a frita, is a delicious spiced hamburger patty served on a bun covered with lettuce, onion, shoestring potatoes, and plenty of secret sauce.
Raúl: You have to try a frita and there is one place you don’t want to miss.
Taste of Cuba
Cuban Hamburger (Frita) recipe 
from All About Cuban Cooking, courtesy of Josefina Alvarez
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 egg
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp 1000 Island dressing [mayo and ketchup]
1 tsp ketchup
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp ground onion
Soak bread crumbs in milk and mix all ingredients well.  Shape into small balls, place in refrigerator for about 2 hours to let the meat marinate with other ingredients.  Lightly grease grill or frying pan.  Fry meat, press to shape like hamburgers.  Serve in hamburger buns.
Serving tip: For better results, cut the bun with a large round cookie cutter, spread with ketchup, sprinkle with chopped onions if desired, serve with shoestring potatoes.  Fritas were very popular in Cuban and were sold at little stands like hot dog stands in the United States.
Serves 4
Food Network 
Cuban-style Burgers on the Grill Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay
Show:  Boy Meets Grill
Episode:  Burgers Cuban Style
2 pounds ground chuck
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup best-quality mayonnaise
3 cloves roasted garlic, pureed
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
4 soft, classic hamburger buns
8 slices thinly sliced Swiss cheese
4 slices thinly sliced smoked ham
2 dill pickles, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Preheat the grill to high. Form the meat into 4 (1/4-inch thick) burgers. Season the meat with salt and pepper on both sides. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes on both sides for medium doneness. When the burgers are done, remove from the heat and reduce heat to medium-low.
Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise and roasted garlic in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread both sides of each bun with mayonnaise and mustard. Place a slice of cheese on the bottom portion of each bun, place the burger on top of the cheese, then top the cheese with a slice of ham and another slice of cheese, and finally, the pickle slices. Place the tops of the bun over the pickles, wrap the burgers in aluminum foil, and place them on the grill. Using a heavy pan or a brick wrapped in foil, press down on the burgers for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lower the lid on the grill and continue grilling for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bun has become pressed and firm.
Cooks Online
Ethnic Cooking Cuban Hamburger
Posted 3/5/07 3:17 PM  
PICADILLO (pronounced “pee-kah-dee-yo”)
This is what the Cubans do with ground beef instead of making hamburgers. There are many different versions of it but this one is the most authentic.
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon monosodium glutamate
1 pound lean beef, ground
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup dark or light raisins, plumped up in hot water
1/3 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, sliced in thirds
1 seeded green pepper, chopped in half-inch squares
Fry the garlic and onion for five minutes In the oil, stirring frequently. Add the seasonings, the meat, the wine, and stir again. Add the tomatoes, raisins, and olives, and stir. Add the green pepper and cook only long enough for it to get thoroughly hot; it should retain crispness and color.
Serve this dish with plain white rice, either in a separate dish or with the Picadillo on top of the rice and its juices trickling down.
Enough for 3 to 5 people
Mojitos Cuban Bistro (Sugarland, TX)
Frita  6.95
Cuban hamburger and shoestring potatoes
Cafe Del Sol (Phoenix, AZ)
Frita Cubano – The Cuban hamburger - ground beef, pork, garlic, onion and cumin all grilled to order. Served with shoestring fries tangy tomato sauce, shaved onions and jicama slaw. 
4 August 1937, Middlesboro (KY) Daily News, pg. 4, col. 8:
The ‘Burger Meal
First of all, be sure to try a “Burger Plate”—seasoned with
hamburgers, served with sauteed bananas!
(Recipe the same as below—ed.)
25 August 1937, Hammond (IN) Times, pg. 12, cols. 7-8:
Hamburgers in De Luxe Style
Appear on Smart Tables

The burghers of old Hamburg, where the viand got its name, would be astounded to seethe bounds the hamburger has made! From a lowly start at roadside stands and picnics, the ‘burger has made the grade to the smartest tables.
A juicy hamburger, festooned with mustard, flanked with a slab of pungent Bermuda and barely surrounded by bun remains burger without peer. But don’t stop at that; try new kinds:
1 pound hamburger
1 tbsp. tomato catsup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasonings
1/2 teaspoon garlic-salt
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
2 green-tipped or all-yellow bananas
2 tablespoons butter
6 slices bread

Mix hamburger thoroughly with catsup and seasonings; form into six flat patties about four inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick; fry slowly in hot shortening until browned on both sides, turning once.
While hamburgers are frying cut the bananas in half lengthwise and then crosswise and saute in butter. To serve, place the hamburger patties on toasted bread, top with the bananas, using two quarters for each hamburger. Garnish with the remaining bananas. Six servings.
19 December 1958, Troy (NY) Record, pg. 38, cols. 6-8:
For Quick, Tasty Supper Dish Try Picadillo
(Same recipe as below—ed.)
1 January 1959, Chicago (IL) Daily Herald, pg. 16?, col. 2:
Spanish Hamburger

For a quick supper dish that the whole family will go for, make Picadillo, a Spanish version of hamburger. In 4 tablespoons of Spanish olive oil saute one medium onion, chopped fine, one medium green pepper, diced, and one small can of pimientos, drained and diced.
When onion is tender, add one pound chopped beef and stir once or twice with fork until meat is cooked. Serve over hot cooked rice, or between buns as you do barbecued beef. Makes four servings.
30 June 1966, Big Spring (TX) Daily Herald, C1 (pg. 23):
(Cuban Hamburger)
2 lbs. ground beef
2 eggs
1 finely chopped medium onion
3 tbsps. catsup
4 slices white bread
Salt, pepper, paprika to taste
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp. mustard
Put milk in large bowl and add crumbled bread. Let bread soak, and then add remaining ingredients and mix well. Form into patties and freeze. These may be taken from freezer and cooked like hamburger patties. Serve in a bun.
18 August 1976, Frederick (MD) News, “Celebrity Cookbook: Cesar Romero enjoys eating” by Johna Blinn,  pg. 64?, col. 1:
My mother learned to cook out of necessity. She was a good cook, both of American-style meals and the family’s Cuban favorites. I was always especially fond of her picadillo. That’s a dish made with chopped meat, raisins and chopped, pimiento-stuffed olives. It’s a little like the American “Sloppy Joe,” served over hamburger or hotdog buns.

Posted by Barry Popik
Florida (Sunshine State Dictionary) • Thursday, September 27, 2007 • Permalink

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