Frita Cubana Recipe

Time Traveling

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 Frita Cubana 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. 

Frita Cubana Recipe

  • 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.

Originally posted in Babalú blog. October 2007