Smoked Jarlsberg Cuban Burger with Sweet Plantain

My sincerest apologies to the vegetarians reading this. As I’m sure you can tell, this week’s Smoked Jarlsberg Cuban Burger with Sweet Plantain is not for you. Honestly, there are probably a few omnivores who are a little taken aback. But I assure you, this burger is extra for a good reason. I created this burger in the spirit of Jarlsberg’s Burger Recipe Contest. And although my interpretation of the theme features two different kinds of animal protein, that doesn’t mean yours has to. All that is required is that you create a dream burger that integrates Jarlsberg in a surprising and delicious way. Veggie burgers are more than welcome.

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The Ingredients for the Mojo Marinade

There’s nothing I love more in the summertime than smoking a large piece of meat with a cooler of beer nearby. Throw in a zero-gravity chair and I’m in a level of heaven that is beyond expression. The act of BBQing embodies everything there is to love about the summer. There’s the excellent weather, the laid back leisurely pace, and the palatability of cheap, cheap beer. Yes, when you’re grill adjacent, anything even remotely resembling beer tastes good.

The Ingredients for the Cilantro Mint Sauce

BBQing is a summer activity that I think everyone with a backyard should partake in. So when Jarlsberg told me about they were offering a WEBER Spirit II gas grill as the grand prize for their burger competition, how could I not encourage you to enter? A good quality BBQ makes you a winner all summer long. Believe me, I want that for you. I want it so much that I completed the assignment myself. Behold, the Smoked Jarlsberg Cuban Burger with Sweet Plaintain.

Mint Cilantro Sauce

Don’t worry this bad boy isn’t a contender. I just whipped up today’s Smoked Jarlsberg Cuban Burger to stimulate your creative juices. This burger is just one example of the many ways you can make Jarlesberg part of your next cheeseburger experience.

Mojo Shredded Pork

To enter simply choose a style of Jarlsberg (original, light, or smoked) and use it to make your wildest burger dreams come true. From there all you have to do is submit a photo of your dream burger along with a brief description and boom! You’re in the running for that Weber BBQ. Never has the application process been so tasty.

Mojo Shredded Pork

Okay, enough about the BBQ winning burger you will create, let’s talk about this Smoked Jarlsberg Cuban Burger. From the moment this assignment found its way into my inbox, I knew Smoked Jarlsberg would be my chosen cheese. I’m a sucker for smoked anything. I recently spent close to $10 on a tiny box of Maldon’s Smoked Salt. So yeah, if it says smoked on the label, I’ll try it at least once.

Fried Sweet Plantains

With my preoccupation with all things smoked in mind, you can only imagine my delight when I learned that Smoked Jarlsberg is actually smoked with real hickory. It may sound strange to be excited about a smoked cheese that is smoked but the truth is this is a surprisingly rare occurrence. I know it sounds crazy, but the majority of smoked cheeses available in Canada are not actually smoked. They are simply treated with liquid smoke instead, which just makes my heart sad.

Low Maintenance Mustard Pickles

So, I had my cheese selected. Now all I had to consider was what to do with it. I decided to start with the tasting notes associated with the cheese and use them as a jumping-off point. Every variety of Jarlsberg has a sweet, nutty flavor, like Swiss cheese with teeth. So, naturally, my mind went to the Cubano. A towering Cuban sandwich that features mojo pork, ham, mustard, pickles, and melty Swiss cheese served on soft Cuban bread. It’s a meaty sandwich if there ever was one. In fact, in some areas of Florida, they even add salami.

Burger Patties - Smoked Jarlsberg Cuban Burger

So with my inspiration in place, I got to work. The first thing I did with nix the deli meats. The burger I had planned had enough going on without bringing them into this. Next, I had to figure out the mojo pork. Most versions call for slow roasting the pork, but in honor of the Smoked Jarlsberg, I opted to smoke it. So I marinated a bone-in pork shoulder overnight in a mojo marinade, then slapped it into a dutch oven with onions and half of the marinade for company. The pot went on the BBQ where I slow cooked it at roughly 275°F for nearly 5 hours. When it was all said in done, the pork could barely hold onto the bone.

Smoked Jarlsberg Cuban Burger

From there, I simply threw a few quarter-pound hamburger patties on the grill, added my slices of Smoked Jarlsberg, and let them coast to melty perfection. And while my patties grilled, I fried up slices of sweet plantain in butter until good and caramelized.

Smoked Jarlsberg Cuban Burger

Finally, it was time to build the burger. I started with the sweet plantains, which are so important to the balance of this burger, then I placed the patty on top. A mound of shredded mojo pork was perched on top of the patty and doused in a cilantro, mint puree for a hit of freshness. The final pièce de résistance is the laziest batch of mustard pickles you’ll ever “make”. Essentially, it’s sliced dill pickles tossed with yellow mustard and whole grain mustard. Yes, these pickles won’t garner you any blue ribbons at a state fair but they get the job done. And once the top bun is secured, there you have your Smoked Jarlsberg Cuban Burger in all it’s teetering glory.

Smoked Jarlsberg Cuban Burger

So, that’s everything you need to know about this Smoked Jarlsberg Cuban Burger. It’s definitely delicious but rather than recreating it, why not let your imagination run wild and dream up a Jarlsberg burger concoction of your own., the contest runs until August 30th, so there is still plenty of time to enter.

Good luck and enjoy!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Jarlsberg.


Smoked Jarlsberg Cuban Burger

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Marinating Time 8 hours
Servings 4


  • Smoker or Charcoal Grill


Smoked Mojo Pork

  • 2.3 kg (5 lb) bone-in pork shoulder
  • 1 grapefruit juiced
  • 5 limes juiced
  • 3 oranges juiced
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano coarsely chopped, tightly packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro coarsely chopped, tightly packed
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 sweet onion cut into wedges

Cilantro Mint Sauce

  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro coarsely chopped, tightly packed
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Smoked Jarlsberg Cuban Burger

  • 454g (1 lb) lean ground beef formed into four patties
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 150g (5oz) Hickory Smoked Jarlsberg Cheese sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 very ripe plantain sliced
  • 3 dill pickles sliced
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 batch Mojo Pork see above
  • 1 batch Cilantro Mint Sauce see above
  • 4 good-quality hamburger buns


For the Mojo Pork

  • Pat the pork shoulder dry using paper towels. Sprinkle liberally with salt on all sides. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl whisk to combine the citrus juices, vinegar, garlic, herbs, cumin, and pepper. Lower the pork into the marinade and cover. Place the bowl in the fridge and let rest for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • Preheat your oven to 275°F. Or soak 1-2 cups of good quality wood chips. Build 2 beds of hot coals on either side of your charcoal BBQ and sprinkle the soaked wood chips on top. Cover and adjust the vents of your BBQ to coax it up to 275° F.
  • When your oven or BBQ is primed, cover the base of a dutch oven with the onion wedges. Place the pork on top and pour in half of the marinade. Cover and place in the oven or on the grill.
  • Cook the pork for 2 hours covered, then remove the cover and cook for at least 2 hours more. If you want to be able to slice the pork, cook it to an internal temperature of 170°F. If you want it shreddable, like in the photos above, cook the pork to 190°F.
  • Take the pork off the heat and tent in foil. Let rest for 30 minutes. Pour off the juices from the pot and place in them in the freezer.
  • Once the pork has rested, take the reserved pork juices out of the freezer and scrape off the fat that will have settled on top. Discard. Spoon the rest into a small skillet and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until reduced slightly, about 6-7 minutes.
  • While the sauce is reducing, shred the pork and remove any and all bones. Pour the reduced pork juices over the meat and toss to coat. Cover and keep warm while you create the rest of the burger.

Cilantro Mint Sauce

  • Place the onion, herbs, and salt in a large food processor and blitz until they resemble mulch. With the food processor running, stream in the lime juice and olive oil.
  • Transfer the finished sauce to a bowl and set aside until ready to use.

Smoked Jarlsberg Cuban Burger

  • Sprinkle the burger patties with the salt and fresh ground pepper on both sides. Place the patties on either a hot grill or a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
  • Cook the patties until charred slightly on one side, then flip. This should take 2-3 minutes. Place slices of Smoked Jarlsberg on the cooked side and cover the grill or pan. Cook for another 2 minutes or until the cheese has melted and there is good color on both sides of the patties. Transfer the patties to a plate and keep warm.
  • While the patties are cooking, melt the butter in a large cast-iron skillet until foamy. Add the plantain slices and cook until caramelized on both sides. This should take about 7 minutes, turning once.
  • Once the patties and plantains are finished cooking. Place the pickles and mustards in a small bowl and toss to coat.
  • Cut the buns in half and place three slices of plantain on the bottom bun. Top the plantain with a burger patty followed by a mound of the shredded Mojo Pork. Drizzle the pork with the Cilantro Mint Sauce and finish the burger with 4-5 mustard pickle slices. Place the top bun on top and secure with a bamboo skewer. Repeat with the remaining burgers.
  • Serve burgers immediately with beer and good company.

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