L.A. On a Plate

July 15, 2011

Speaking in culinary terms, Los Angeles is famous for two things: the birthplace of hamburgers, and fabulous, authentic Mexican food. Those two characteristics are married beautifully in this recipe, found in the L.A. Times’ contest for burger recipes. The cemita is a Mexican sandwich, similar to a torta but the bread and fillings are less varied. This recipe creates a hamburger cemita of sorts, featuring a chipotle-infused burger topped with a chipotle crema and mashed avocado. The spicy chipotles are balanced by the cool avocado, and the cheese adds a nice salty touch. Plus the cilantro and onions give it a nice tang. The result is a very messy burger, but one that’s full of the flavors of L.A. The original recipe called for a few ingredients that might be tough to find outside of places with large Latin-American populations, but this one should be accessible to all. Enjoy!

Mexican Cemita Burger

(serves 4)

Chipotle crema

2 canned chipotle peppers (packed in adobo sauce), diced, and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup mayo

In a small mixing bowl, combine the chipotle, adobo sauce, garlic, sour cream, and mayo. Mix until well combined.

Avocado spread

1 avocado, lightly mashed

1 tablespoon lime juice

Kosher salt

In a small mixing bowl, combine avocado and lime juice. Season with salt to taste.

Patties and assembly

1¼ pound ground beef

1 canned chipotle pepper, minced with 1 tablespoon adobo sauce

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

3 oz. Jack cheese, pepper jack, queso fresco, or mozzarella, sliced

4 buns or onion rolls, toasted

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

½ red onion, sliced

In a large bowl, combine the beef, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine, but do not over mix. Divide the mixture in half and form the portions into patties to fit the buns. Heat oil in a skillet over med-high heat, then add the burgers to the skillet. Cook the burgers until set and browned on one side, about 3-4 minutes, then flip. Top the burgers with the cheese then cover the pan with aluminum foil. Cook an additional 4 to 5 minutes for medium burgers, or until the burgers have reached desired doneness. Spread the chipotle crema evenly on each cut side of the toasted buns. Sprinkle the cilantro over the crema on the cut sides of the bun tops. Top the bottom halves of each bun 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. Get lots of napkins. Eat!



  1. L.A. is a great place for hamburgers. But I’m not 100% on it being the best place for a burger, let alone the birthplace. Hell L.A. isn’t even your birthplace.

    • Ok, the birthplace of the burger is a little fuzzy…there are many arguments over where it truly began. But as for the best place to get one, I have 2 1/2 words for you: In N’ Out. And as for me, my birth certificate says I was born at Northridge Hospital. I think that’s correct. And since you definitely were NOT born in L.A., your opinion about burgers should be taken with a grain of salt or three. Thanks for reading!

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