Cubanos


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There are few opportunities for us to experience a true Cubano where we live in rural middle America but through TV and books we get the idea, they’re good! Maybe you’re wondering, is this worth the effort? It’s just a sandwich. Is the Mona Lisa just art? Are Mountains just high? Is Machu Picchu just architecture? No, and this is the King of sandwiches.
The keystone component is the brined and marinated pork. A pork shoulder preferably. My recipe is based on the coolest chef in America, Roy Choi’s recipe. Thank you, Chef!

PORK SHOULDER:

Brine

2 C orange juice

1 1/4 C water

1/4 C rice vinegar

1/4 C rum

1/4 C salt

2 T sugar

lots of minced garlic (make your garlic love known!)

1/2 T each of fresh thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, and whole peppercorns. (These can be exchanged, swapped, or omitted, just be sure you have enough to make it herbaceous)

2 bay leaves

Let that hang out in the fridge overnight, or twelve hours.

Remove from brine and place on a wire rack set in a baking sheet. It’s helpful for clean up to line your baking sheet with foil. Next rub on your marinade and let sit for two hours.

Marinade

In a blender put

1/3 C cilantro

2 T fresh mint

1/4 C orange juice

1/4 C fresh lime juice

4 garlic cloves

1 T grated orange peel

1 t fresh oregano

3/4 t ground cumin

1/3 t ground pepper

1/3 t kosher salt

Blend together and while blender is running drizzle in,

1/3 C olive oil

This will cause your marinade to emulsify and become thick and creamy.

Now it is time to put it in the oven. Low and slow is the aim. Put your oven on 300 degrees and let it go until it reaches an internal temp of 185 degrees. For pull apart pork it’ll need to go up to 195-205 degrees. Having a meat thermometer for this endeavor is indispensable. Feel free to pop open that oven and baste that pork every so often, you should have plenty of marinade left.

CUBANOS:

So you’ve made the most wonderfully delicious pork, now for the main event. You’ll need a few more things,

• Swiss cheese

• Cuban style mustard (if you can find it, it’s worth it)

• Sliced ham

• Sliced kosher pickles

• Cuban bread (I haven’t been able to find this where we live, and I haven’t made it either. But a French loaf, or Italian loaf is a great substitute since it’s basically the same thing, except a Cuban loaf is made with lard.) Throw your sliced pork shoulder pieces, and slices of ham in to the pan to get them warmed up and a little toasty.

Once your Cubano is assembled, liberally butter both the top and bottom. Seriously, the more the better.


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Traditionally this sandwich is made on a press, to get both the top and bottom golden brown and toasted, but I improvised using my plancha, or flattop and a heavy pan.


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Now, you are ready to eat! This may seem like a lot of work for just a “sandwich” but this is the sandwich that will change how you think about dinner. Anything between two slices of bread is just a sandwich, but with a little planning and simple ingredients this “sandwich” becomes a soul satisfying meal.

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