Monday, August 1, 2011

Cuban Sandwich with Mojo Pork

Our friends in LA recently had their street taken over for some filming for Dexter. All the talk of the goings on and the candid shot of Michael C. Hall walking between cop cars and palm trees they took got me a terrible hankering for one of my favorite sandwiches.

The Cuban.

I've had them in so many restaurants over time. I thought maybe I was having better versions in the south, but not being in Florida really makes it difficult to get a "real" Cuban on account of the lard in the bread. It doesn't travel well.

I love the fact that there are two kinds of pork in it. I love the pickles. And man, until I made the bread, I really didn't know what I was missing from the knockoffs out there. Not even in the same ballpark.

Besides the bread, the roasted pork is an essential element to the sandwich. It is usually made with pork shoulder, but since I was really only making a few sandwiches at best, I went with some super cheap pork tenderloin chops I found on sale. It worked great, so I recommend going that direction if you're only cooking for 3-4.

The mojo pork is really easy and the actual sandwich comes together in a snap, so this should be a pretty quick one. 

I used Bobby Flay's recipe, modified a bit for the amount of pork I'm using. 

Mojo Pork

1 cup of orange juice
2 limes, juiced
4 tablespoons, fresh oregano, minced (divided) (or 2 tablespoons, dried)
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced (divided)
1 oz tequila
1/4 cup olive oil

Cuban Sandwich

4 thin slices of ham (I used cheap deli slices but by all means, use nice ham)
2 layers of sliced mojo pork
2 slices of Swiss cheese 
3 or 4 slices of pickles (use good pickles here, like Claussen's Kosher Dill)
1/2 loaf of Cuban bread (made my own here, but can use french bread in a pinch)


Start by getting the pork marinade together. 

Mince up the oregano.

Love having a garden.

Put the orange juice and lime juice into a small pan over high heat. 

Add half the oregano to the pan. 

Mince up the garlic and add half to the pan. 

When the orange mixture has reduced by half, remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. We'll use this for a basting liquid later. 

Toss the lime rinds along with the rest of the garlic and oregano into a ziploc bag.

Add the olive oil and tequila. 

Add the pork chops and rub them well through the bag. 

Let this marinate 4-5 hours or overnight. 

When you're ready to cook the pork, remove it form the bag and put it into a baking dish.

Season with salt and pepper and add some of the basting liquid. 

Cook at 425F for 30 minutes. I basted it once at 15 minutes.

Make sure the temp is at 155F and pull the pork. Let it rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board. 

Slice up the pork and set aside until you build the sandwiches. 

Looks more pink than it was.

I have since made this with a small pork shoulder.

Same procedure but it turns out much nicer looking. I baked it at 425 for 15 minutes then dropped the heat to 375 until it hit 150 internal temp.

Very nice:

Either way works and made good pork, just adjust to whatever pork product you have on hand. 


Anyhoo, let's make a Cuban!

Get your bread sliced.

Lay on the mustard on both sides and add the ham.

Layer on the pork and add the cheese.

Slice the pickles as thin as you can.

Flip the sandwich over and butter the bottom, liberally.

Here's where we get creative. 

Cubans are supposed to be pressed. It's what gives them their unique texture and overall eating experience. 

I got 2 pans and a big can. 

Put both over med-high heat and throw the sandwich on one of them. Non stick would be best. 

Butter the top of the sandwich.

Press the other hot pan on the top and push down hard using a can to keep you from the hot surface.

Be sure to use even pressure and try not to let the sandwich shift.

Let the can weigh it down for 2-3 minutes. 

Flip the sandwich and repeat the press until the cheese has completely melted and the bread is golden brown.

Let it rest for a few minutes for the cheese to firm back up a bit.

Cut on the diagonal and serve. 

Overall this sandwich blew away those I've had in restaurants. By a mile. The bread and pork were fantastic and played perfectly with the amazing dill pickles and ham.

If you're a fan of Cubans, these will knock your socks off.


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