The Dominican late night street food staple gets a deluxe upgrade in this Chimichurri Burger Recipe.
Let’s talk burgers! May is National Burger Month and I got a special burger to celebrate with. Have you ever tried a Dominican Chimichurri Burger? It’s saucy, messy and full of flavor, like any great burger should be. A visit to the Dominican Republic is not complete without a “chimi.” Now you can have one at home and dream of your next Caribbean vacation.
My friend Kita Roberts, the burger-rrific creator of Girl Carnivore, invited me to be part of her epic #BurgerMonth Event. The biggest month-long online celebration of all things burger. Immediately, I started my search for inspiration. I flipped through my mental rolodex (and Instagram feed) of all the great burgers I’ve eaten in my life. I had to create an epic burger to meet the Girl Carnivore’s high standards!
I’ve had crazy good burgers in my life. Burgers stuffed with gooey cheeses or topped with bacon jam. That one, at Portland Oregon’s Tabor Tavern, changed my life. Who knew ketchup was not a required condiment of every burger (a long-held belief)? I thought of recreating it, but making bacon jam is something I prefer to leave to the experts.
Burgers stacked high, loaded with funky toppings, onion rings, mac n cheese or fried eggs came to mind. Like the ones at my favorite burger joint in Orlando, Florida, Teak Neighborhood Grill. I was on to something. How high can I stack my burger?
Last year, I wrote an article for Orlando Signature Magazine on the best new burgers in Orlando. That research was intense (and caloric!) At one restaurant alone I sampled 8 different burgers! I lost count of how many burger joints I visited. The things we do in the name of research. Drool-worthy images of those burgers danced around in my head.
Ultimately, the one I chose to share with you for National Burger Month, brings back fun memories of my time growing up in the Dominican Republic and the many return trips to visit family and friends.
A night of partying – “una chercha”, “parranda” or “bonche” – in this tropical destination is not complete, without a stop at one of the many food vendors you find on every street corner of the bustling capital of Santo Domingo. You’ll find them everywhere, especially near dance clubs or a “colmado” (a corner store popular for buying beer and provisions and hanging out). You can also find a chimichurri stand on a quiet neighborhood side street. Every Dominican has their favorite go-to stand.
What I most remember about eating chimichurris is special times with friends. Eating, drinking, dancing, talking and socializing. The chimi itself, although I love it, I had never thought much about.
It’s not the type of dish you spend much time deconstructing and analyzing. You don’t usually want to know exactly what’s in it. Instead, you devour it in haste.
You say your usual “man this is so good” – ‘ta bueno! – between big bites as the pink blend of mayo / ketchup sauce mixed with meat juices drips down your hands and arms. They are messy. Then you move on back to the conversation.
People from all walks of life converge at the chimichurri stand. It could be a food truck or cart, or a make-shift counter, constructed of plywood with a tin roof. You don’t care. You’re eating the best burger you’ve ever had, except you don’t know it. (Deep down you do).
Anthony Bourdain of Travel Channel’s “No Reservations” raved about chimis during his visit to “Chimi Cafeteria El Caco”, one of my favorite vendors. He made it hip and cool. For Dominicans, it’s still their not-so-hidden secret, the same ole ‘chimi.’
The no frills burger made of a slightly flattened meat patty with crisp edges. Round or oval shaped depending on the size of the bun – the common choice of bread is a “pan de agua” – water bread. It’s made of meat you never question. Ground pork or ground beef, sometimes mixed with chorizo and spices giving it a reddish color. Cooked on a well seasoned grill that’s been in nightly operation for years. The pink sauce makes it. Either ketchup and mayo are squirted all over the burger or a simple mayo and ketchup blend seasoned with soy sauce – “salsa China” and other seasonings. (I used Worcestershire – “salsa Inglesa” in my version.) Topped with shredded cabbage or a cabbage / carrot blend. Onions and under-ripe tomato, for added crunch, appear in some versions too.
My recipe below is my own inspired version. I made a few adjustments to my patty seasoning to give it an ultra garlicky and onion flavor. Ground chuck mixed with an onion and garlic paste came out incredibly juicy. I used Worcestershire sauce in the patty and the pink sauce instead of soy sauce for a different flavor profile. I lightly cooked the cabbage as they do in the DR, but I did not add any soy sauce to it. I added avocado because there is rarely a meal in DR that does not include it. That’s how I made it a Dominican chimichurri burger deluxe!
Fun Facts about the Dominican Chimichurri Burger
- What’s with the name? The chimichurri burger is of no relation or ressemblance to the Argentinian garlic herb and olive oil sauce of the same name. No one knows why it’s called chimichurri or “chimi” for short. Dominicans love to shorten words.
Dominicans don’t call chimis burgers. Even though they are one. If you want a traditional burger in DR (patty, lettuce, tomato and onion) you ask for “un hambergue.” (an Anglicized version of hamburger)
There are as many versions of the chimi recipe as there are chimi vendors in Dominican Republic. Each adds their own secret ingredients and rarely do they ever divulge the recipe.
The perfect accompaniment to a chimi is a nice cold Presidente Dominican beer. Rarely do you see one without the other. Ask for it “ceniza” (ashen) and you’ll see the ice cold green bottle turn white when it makes contact with the warm air. Dominicans call this “vestido de novia” or wedding dress. There is no such thing as “too cold” for this pilsner beer. Served a step below freezing. If it’s not cold enough you send it back. Trust me. No self-respecting vendor in the DR will serve you a warm beer. Ever. You can get a small, large or jumbo sized bottle depending on your thirst level.
A bag of “platanitos” – plantain chips – or “papas fritas” – fried potatoes – is also a great side kick.
Chimichurri burgers are a late night meal, enjoyed on the street, during a break between dance clubs or at the end of the night. I don’t recall ever eating a chimi during daylight hours. Are they even open during the day?
What is Girl Carnivore’s Burger Month Event all about?
Burger Month is the biggest annual party dedicated to all things burger. Girl Carnivore has gathered over 100 bloggers, influencers, butchers, chefs, and burger afficionados to share their ultimate burger recipes all month long. There is no shortness of inspiration here! Follow the hashtag #BurgerMonth to see all the recipes.
Check out my friend’s Rachelle Lucas of TheTravelBite.com Blueberry Brie Burger (The Triple B). A decadent creation inspired during our afternoon blueberry picking in Clermont, Florida. Southern Hills Farm, located a short 30 minute drive from Orlando, is a great place to visit this time of year.
Enter the Burger Month Giveaway to Win the Ultimate Burger Grilling Kit, including a grill and fun grilling gadgets, valued at over $800. Girl Carnivore gathered some amazing sponsors so be sure to check them out too. You will find it all by clicking here. Enter multiple times throughout the month!
What epic burger creation will you make this month? I hope you’ll try this Dominican Chimichurri Burger Recipe and celebrate National Burger Month with friends. Go #MakeSomedayHappen.
Dominican Chimichurri Burger Deluxe Recipe
- ½ cup of ketchup
- ½ cup of mayonnaise
- ¼ fresh orange, juiced (or 1 Tablespoon orange juice)
- ½ fresh lime, juiced (or 1 Tablespoon lime juice)
- 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- Mix the ketchup, mayonnaise, orange juice, lime juice and Worcestershire sauce. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- ½ medium Vidalia onion, rough chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoons of garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon of pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground dried oregano
- ½ Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
- 2 pounds of ground beef (chuck preferred)
- Pulse onion, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and Worcestershire sauce in food processor for a coarse paste. Drain some of the liquid.
- Mix seasoning paste with meat.
- Divide meat into 4 portions, about ½ inch thick and form 4 patties. Press a small indentation in the center of your burger patty to prevent it from puffing up in the middle.
- Grill on both sides, approximately 4 minutes per side for medium rare or to your preferred doneness.
- 2 ½ cups of shredded cabbage carrot slaw mix
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Pinch garlic salt
- Sprinkle pinch of garlic salt on cabbage slaw.
- Sautée in a pan over medium heat with teaspoon of olive oil, until tender, 1-2 minutes.
- Remove from heat, add rice vinegar, mix and set aside, in refrigerator to cool.
Assembly of Chimichurri Burgers
- ½ red onion, cut into rings
- 1 beefsteak tomato, cut into slices
- 1 small avocado, cut into slices
- 4 water bread rolls or hamburger buns
- Plantain Chips (Platanitos)
- Add 1 tsp olive oil to pan. Add onion rings to soften.
- Grill sliced bun faced down to get warm and crisp with soft interior.
- Assemble burger by lathering plenty of pink sauce on bottom of bun, then meat patty, tomato slice, avocado, onion, cabbage, more pink sauce, then top bun.
- Serve with plantain chips and an ice cold Dominican beer.