3 February 2013

Mexican Cemita Sliders for Any Day

Mexican Cemita Sliders

Spring is in the air. Winter has been pretty mild so I can't complain even if it is human nature to do so; just the right amount of snow, no extended weeks of minus temperatures, but just one frigid day to allow the wineries to press their grapes for ice wine. Mother Nature has been kind to us...so far. I live in Canada and have no delusion that winter lasts only a couple of months. I know that it is not over yet, but, there have been years when we have been golfing in February so a girl can dream can't she? I like it. Even so my thoughts always drift to white sand beaches, warm tropical breezes and a vacation in Mexico this time of year. My latest foodie obsession is a cemita from south of the border. Now I have never had a cemita in Mexico, but, with an upcoming family wedding on the Mayan Riviera early next year I find myself doing my research as I would love to take a food tour in Mexico City as well as a cooking class in the mountains.
Have you ever had a cemita? It’s a sandwich popular in the Mexican state of Puebla, Mexico. The bun, which is also called a cemita, is where the sandwich gets its name. It’s an egg-rich bread topped with sesame seeds that is sort of a cross between challah and brioche. The two most distinguishing ingredients of the cemita are the dark-green citrus-y tasting leaves called papalo and the thick snarl of stringy white Oaxacan cheese that trails out the sides of each sandwich like paper streamers. 

Papalo is a green herb with scalloped leaves. The name comes from the Nahuatl word "papalotl," for butterfly. It is as pretty as it is pungent, with a sharp citrusy flavor that slices through the fatty layers of the sandwich. Any proper cemita should have a couple of leaves, although, as a hard-to-find ingredient, it is usually the most frequently omitted. 

I have always felt that one of the best ways to visit a country is to take a cooking class or better yet spend an entire week on a culinary vacation. One year from now I hope to have the opportunity to try a cemita on the streets of Mexico with both papalo and Oaxacan cheese, but until then the substitution of lemon basil and mozzarella cheese is the best I can offer.

In a search for an authentic recipe I discovered that the meat used most often was a pulled pork similar to what you would find in a carnita or a even a breaded piece of pork pounded thinly. What intrigued me was the burger version. No matter which you choose a festival of flavours and textures nestled between a pillow-soft bun will tickle your tastebuds. It seems that that is what Mexico is all about.

The original recipe for this burger was one of 5 winners in the 2011 LA Times Burger contest submitted by Harold Cohen of Hollywood, Florida. If you have hearty eaters you can cook it up like a burger or do as I did and create Game Day sliders.  The crunch of the corn chips, the pepperiness of the basil and the slight heat of the chipotles makes for one tasty snack that will take your mind off the game. I hope your team is winning. Go team!!!!

Who else is doing the cemita.

Cemita-Style Pork Sandwich - Canadian Living
Supersize Cemita - New York Times
Cemita Poblano - Saveur

** Mexican Cemita Burgers or Sliders** 

 Chipotle crema 

2 canned chipotle peppers (packed in adobo sauce), diced, and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 cup Mexican crema (can substitute crème fraîche or sour cream)
1/4 cup mayonnaise

In a small mixing bowl, combine the chipotle, adobo sauce, garlic, Mexican crema, and mayonnaise.

Mix until well combined.

This makes about two-thirds cup chipotle crema, which will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.

Avocado spread

1/2 cup lightly mashed avocado, preferably Hass (about 3/4 of an avocado)
Scant tablespoon lime juice
Kosher salt

In a small mixing bowl, combine avocado and lime juice. Season with one-eighth teaspoon salt, or to taste. This makes a scant one-half cup avocado spread, which will keep, tightly covered and refrigerated, up to 1 day.

Patties and assembly

3/4 pound ground beef chuck
1 canned chipotle pepper, minced with 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
Scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Scant 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Canola oil for pan-frying
3 ounces Oaxacan cheese (quesillo), separated into thin strings (can substitute mozzarella or Jack cheese)
2 sesame seed buns, toasted (or 8 slider buns)
Chipotle crema (recipe above)
5 papalo leaves, finely minced (or ¼ cup cilantro sprigs plus 2 tablespoons watercress leaves, minced/ I opted for lemon basil)
1 cup corn tortilla chips, lightly crushed
Very thin slices red onion
Avocado spread (recipe above)

 In a large bowl, combine the beef, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine, but do not overmix. Divide the mixture in half and form the portions into patties to fit the buns. If making sliders divide into 8 meatball size pieces and flatten.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add enough oil to form a thin film on the bottom of the pan, about 2 tablespoons, then add the burgers to the skillet. Cook the burgers until set and browned on one side, about 3 minutes, then flip.

Top the burgers with the cheese, then cover the pan with aluminum foil or lid. Cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes for medium-rare burgers, or until the burgers have reached desired doneness.

Assemble the burgers: Spread the chipotle crema evenly on each cut side of the toasted buns. Sprinkle the minced papalo leaves over the crema on the cut sides of the bun tops. On the bottom halves of each bun, sprinkle the crushed tortilla chips then top with a cheese-topped patty, a slice of onion, and equal amounts of the avocado spread. Top the burgers with the bun tops and serve immediately.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. aaah Love these sandwichs Val:)

  2. Those burgers look incredibly good!



  3. Boy do they look good!

    My husband has never golfed in Feb here:) We are a LOONG way away!

  4. ooh, girl! You're going to love MR! Been there and fell in love. And, food tours in Mexico City are a growing thing I met a new biz owned by two women that host daily tours. Great looking sliders. And I love the platter, too! :)

    Golf in Feb? I'm jelly. Not for another few months here.

    1. I woud love to connect to these two women in Mexico City Bren:D

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  6. I've been wanting to make homemade cemita buns. It's on my to-try list! These sliders look perfect for today.

  7. These burgers look great !
    I also really like your pictures.
    The're so clear

  8. I'm glad it's spring-y by you too. It's been so warm here, but that doesn't always mean nice weather for the rest of the country.

  9. I've never heard of cemita bread before, Val, but these are so darn cute. :-) I like my regular burgers with avocado, so I know I'd like this version. :-)

  10. I recently became obsessed with cemitas! They really are the perfect bite!

  11. This is a wonderful sandwich, Val. You did a fantastic job with the substitutions. I'm going to give you recipe a try. I let you know how it works out. I hope your week is off to a good start. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  12. That's a beauty of a burger, Val. I've never even heard of papalo leaves. If it's citrusy, lemon basil is probably a really good substitute.
    BTW: your platter is fabulous!
    Happy Monday!

    1. Thanks Barbara. My daughter brought me the platter from Portugal, but it has that look.

  13. You always have something interesting up your sleeve! This sounds amazing and I loved learning about cernitas!

  14. My goodness...what a tasty sounding sandwich. It will be interesting to be able to try one in Mexico and see how they compare. Karen

  15. Great looking sliders. And I agree, a vacation isn't a vacation until you have had a foodie tour or cooking class.

  16. Now those look SCRUMPTIOUS, Val! Is it your daughter's wedding? OH, my! Mexico City next? WOOHOO! I adore Mexican food. Wish I was there to share these with you!

  17. Just a minute - you only have one daughter, right? So it cannot be your daughter's wedding....

    1. It is L'il Burnt Toast's wedding Valerie. She is going for her masters at university so Mexico it is!

  18. I've never had a Cemita, authentic or otherwise. :) It sounds delicious though, and is something I'd like to try. Please have an extra one for me in Mexico! :)

  19. the patties are wonderful, but it's the accompaniments that steal the show for me! very nice!

  20. So you provided all those lovely links and I researched and decided that absolutely I want these delectable sliders in my life. I love how you think - getting to know a place by taking a cooking class! Perfect!

  21. Oh! Grilling little burgers like these would be sweet! I am loving all the little components of this dish, Val! So much flavour packed into these little sliders! Exvcellent post! Thanks for your optimistic attitude too! What a nice pick-me-up!

  22. I have never had cemitas, but I adore Mexican food and all of that ooey gooey cheese on these sliders (which themselves are such a great idea!). Oaxacan cheese? What a great place and fab food to boot! If Mexico is on your trip agendas for the future, make sure Oaxaca is a must-visit!

  23. Our winter had been mild until about 3 weeks ago. We've had more snow in the past two weeks than we've had all season. My husband was just telling me last year he golfed with friends on March 8 and it was 80 degrees. I highly doubt hat will happen this year but you never know!

    These little sliders look fantastic! What amazing flavors.

  24. looks good, I have wanted to eat it, hehehe


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