It’s been a minute since my last post. Things were getting a little overwhelming for a while with papers due for school, Laura working extra hours which left me to keep Jack on his nightly schedule while simultaneously trying to get dinner ready. And the construction they’ve been doing in town has messed up traffic, so on top of all of that, it’s been hard to even get home on time to get it all done. But, it should all lighten up soon when the construction dies down and Laura’s busy season tapers off.
With all of that, I’ve still had ideas swimming in my head for things I feel like cooking or would like to try. I talk about food at work a lot (go figure), and one of the things that seems to resurface is making Cuban sandwiches. They’re really very simple to make, but when done properly, they can be incredibly satisfying.
So I made my own little version. Traditionally, Cuban sandwiches are made with slow roasted pork shoulder, ham, sliced dill pickles, Swiss cheese, mustard (sometimes) all on Cuban bread. Well, I’ve never made Cuban bread, nor do I really know what differentiates if from other sandwich breads. Perhaps it’s similar to a Portuguese sweet roll? I ended up just using store bought hoagie rolls. I also opted to roast a pork tenderloin, marinated in mojo, rather than slow roast an entire pork shoulder.
Cuban sandwiches are typically pressed on a grill, though sometimes they are served as a cold sandwich that isn’t pressed. You can do it either way.
Cuban Sandwich (El Cubano)
Makes two sandwiches
For the Mojo Marinated Pork
- 1 pork tenderloin
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
- 2 each limes
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
Mise en Place
- Smash the garlic with the blade of your knife until it resembles a paste.
- Slice the limes in half and squeeze juice into a small bowl.
Squeezy the Limeys
- Heat olive oil in a small pan on medium heat. When hot, stir in smashed garlic paste and crushed red pepper. Cook until the garlic just starts to turn golden and immediately remove from heat to cool.
Toast the garlic and red pepper flakes
- Pour oil and garlic mixture into lime juice.
Pour the oil into the lime juice
- Add cumin, oregano, and salt.
Add the special blend of herbs and spices
- Place the tenderloin into a large ziplock bag and pour the Mojo marinade over the pork. Push out all of the air and seal. Marinate in the fridge for at least two hours, but not more than eight hours. Due to the high acidity of this Mojo, it will actually cook the outside of the tenderloin like a ceviche, so marinating longer than eight hours will result in tough meat.
- When ready, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and also heat a saute pan on the stove over medium-high heat.
- Add a little oil to the pan and sear the pork tenderloin on each side until browned.
Sear it up
- Place the seared pork on a greased or foiled pan and place in the oven. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until it reaches 160 degrees F.
For the Sandwiches
- 2 hoagie rolls
- Your favorite mustard (I used whole grain mustard)
- Sliced dill pickles
- 1/4 pound of sliced deli ham
- Roasted Mojo marinated pork
- 4 slices of Swiss cheese
- Slice the pickles, if they don’t come that way.
Slice some pickles
- Thinly slice the pork tenderloin against the grain of the meat.
Slice the pork
- Spread a layer of mustard onto the bottom of the hoagie roll.
- Add the sliced pickles.
Dill pickles only. Don’t ruin it with bread and butter pickles, or I’ll come to your house and slap you.
- Add the ham.
Use a nice quality deli ham
- Add the sliced pork.
Pork goes here
- Finally, the cheese.
Swiss cheese. Made in America.
- Press the sandwich with a panini press, George Foreman grill, or whatever means you have. If not, toast it in the oven.
- Slice it corner to corner and enjoy!
In hindsight, I think I would have taken the remaining Mojo marinade from the ziplock bag, brought it up to a quick boil to kill any bacteria that may have been on the meat, and drizzled it over the pork when assembling the sandwich. I bet it would have made this excellent sammich into something epic!