Guatemalan burger recipe

Burger with Guacamole, Spiced Corn and Refried Black Beans
We’re staying in the Americas for another burger – this time we’re going to explore Guatemala.  With this stop we’re back on the mainland in Central America.  Guatemala borders Mexico and Belize and Honduras and El Salvador with coastlines on both sides.  The Maya culture was huge in Guatemala and today the country is home to the largest Maya community in the Americas.  Estimates vary from 40-60% of the total population being self declared or practicing Maya (and by that I mean speaking the language and dressing in traditional dress).  But almost all of the population is Maya and otherwise is of mixed ethnic decent.

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

By Fernando Reyes Palencia, via Wikimedia Commons

By the way – I’ve always used the word Mayan as the adjective form but I noticed when Survivor was located in Guatemala that Jeff kept saying Maya instead of Mayan – so, in the interests of accuracy, I Googled it!  I discovered, according to Wikipedia that Maya is the adjective form and the only time Mayan should really be used is when you’re referring to the language.  Well if both Survivor and Wikipedia say Maya, that’s good enough for me 🙂

Guatemala was a Spanish colony for 3 centuries and achieved independence in 1821.  With 14 million people it is the most populous country in Central America.  Agriculture is extremely important to the economy of the country comprising 13% of the GDP and employing 38% of the labor force.  Unfortunately after suffering a 36 year civil war that ended in 1996, Guatemalans were left with a society with extreme inequality of wealth and more than half of the citizens live below the poverty line.  Even worse, 13% of the people live in extreme poverty and nearly half the children under 5 are chronically malnourished – one of the highest rates in the world.  All of these stats are taken directly from CIA World Factbook which is an amazing resource for global economic data.  If only it had existed when I was in college!

So inexpensive, readily available food is really important.  Corn, especially in the form of tortillas are everywhere – in fact there are even door to door tortilla sales men.  Black beans are eaten almost every day and provide an important source of protein.  Along with corn and beans Guatemalans eat whatever fresh produce is in season and available and meat when it’s available.

So I went pretty close in here and kept it simple.  I started with a corn tortilla, added refried black beans (which are way yummier than standard refried beans).  I then spiced up a little corn with a combo of chili powder and lime juice (a favorite combo of mine), some fresh guacamole and some fresh cabbage for crunch.  The one thing I forgot in the photo version of the burger was the cheese.  I topped the burer with a nice melted Iberico cheese but totally forgot to include it when I took the picture!  Sorry about that.

This burger has classic Central American flavors, it is rich and delicious with just a hint of spice.  The lime juice adds a nice acidic bite to balance the richness of the meat and cheese.  This one goes down as one of my personal favorites – it was delicious and hearty without being too heavy.  Don’t be intimidated by the number of ingredients – this is really easy to make and pretty foolproof.  It is really messy though, so bring lots of napkins.

Messy but yummy, this was how it looked on burger night!

Guatemalan burger
1 pound ground beef
Salt and pepper
4 slices of Iberico or Manchego cheese
4 corn tortillas
Vegetable oil
1 can of refried black beans heated through
Lime Cabbage (recipe below)
4 slices of tomatoes
Guacamole (recipe below)
Spiced Corn (recipe below)

Form four patties from the ground beef and lightly salt and pepper each patty.  Grill to desired temperature.  When burgers are about two minutes from being cooked, add the cheese and cover – cook until melted.

In the meantime, in a small non-stick skillet, brush vegetable oil over the pan and heat each of the tortillas, one at a time, until lightly warmed.

To serve, place a tortilla on each plate and scoop some black beans on each tortilla.  Add some Lime Cabbage and a slice of tomato on each.  Next place the patties on each plate and a generous helping of guacamole and spiced corn finish each off.

Lime Cabbage
1 cup cole slaw mix or chopped fresh cabbage
Juice from ½ of a lime
pinch of Kosher salt

Combine all three ingredients in a glass bowl and let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

1 ripe avocado (soft but not mushy)
½ jalapeno diced
2 Tablespoons red onion minced
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
Juice of ½ lime

Scoop the meat out of the avocado and remove the pit – I find the safest way to do this is to slice the avocado lengthwise and twist to separate the two sides.  Hold the side with the pit in it in one hand.  Take a knife and bring it down firmly perpendicular with the length of the avocado so that it chops into the pit.  Twist the knife and the pit will come right out easily (I really need to video this next time).  Never try to stab the pit with the pointed end of the knife, this is dangerous, trust me.

Mash the avocado with a fork until slightly chunky.  Add all of the other ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use (no more than 30 minutes or the guacamole can turn grey).

Spiced Corn
3 ears of corn
2 Tablespoons melted butter
Juice from 2 limes
½ Tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon Kosher salt

Remove corn from the cob.  Combine all ingredients and let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Sauté the mixture in a medium skillet (don’t use non-stick) over medium high heat until corn is lightly browned and heated through.

©Copyright 2012 Linda Monach



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2 Responses to Guatemalan burger recipe

  1. Jane says:

    Another yummy burger. Next time we make it, we plan to spice it up more (we used ancho chili powder this first time). It also is a good vegetarian-friendly recipe–just leave off the burger and you have an excellent taco filling.

    • linda says:

      So glad you guys liked it! Ancho has a wonderful flavor, but it is really mild. I usually go for the standard chili powder but sometimes I like to use a hot chili powder. I think the basic commercial chili powder has the perfect heat for this one as the dish isn’t supposed to be super spicy. Great idea for a taco – we’ll have to try that!

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