Cubano's - aka Cuban Sandwich

 A customer came to me stating she wanted to make some 'Cubano's' for her book club meet and she came to the right gal to advise her.  Every time a local Supermarket has a 'pork tri tip' on sale, it's Cubano night and even make a tray for my husband's employees if adventurous to treat the masses.  Back to the customer, I did ask her what inspired the menu and she mentioned a book called "The Cuban Affair".  I had given her my recipe and some add's.  Well a couple weeks later she came back and thanked me stating all loved my recipe eats for her book club meet,  and gave me a copy of the book.

I have not read it yet as I've visited Florida many times.  The hubby is from there.  The Caribbean eats of all over the Caribbean are my escape from his family's diner's and (bleh) Olive Garden, Chili's and Broward County Pizza overkill hang outs!   Hence one thing that is not strong on the West Coast is a Caribbean community and eats.  You might see a Cubano on a menu here and there but it's never halfway close to the real deal.   Let's do this!
Time to time Lunardi's will have a sale on their pork tri tip.  $2.99 a lb can't go wrong.  Grab some ham from the deli whether you want sweet, smokey but find the salty Virginia ham is best.  Swiss cheese and they had the Madrigal Baby Swiss on sale also.  Some dill pickles and even though a Cubano is normally no kick spicy, had to add some local Mezzetta Hot Pepper Rings!  (love these things.  Utilize them in my home made muffaletta olive spread too!)
I was not making for many but my the hubby and I and some at his office, so grabbed a bag of 'Francisco' rolls.  Valencia oranges sub for what they call 'Sour Orange' in Florida, a garlic bulb and some dried oregano if not a pantry item at home.  

  • Pork butt, pork shoulder, pork tri tip, loin... whatever is on sale will work.  For 6-8 folks depending on appetite, about 2lbs will do.
  • Sliced ham, whatever is your preference.  About 2/3lb is good.
  • Swiss cheese, sliced, grated.. it has to be there.  1/2 a lb or so.  All up to how much you want to add.
  • Sliced dill pickles.
  • If you want a kick some spicy pickled peppers or chili's but this is not traditional.
  • PLAIN OLE YELLOW MUSTARD.  Not dijon, not brown but just good old cheap yellow mustard.
  • BREAD.  If you are not in Miami, you can't get some of that Cuban bread but find that Sprouts daily loaf they bake or just a really soft loaf by any grocery store or Francisco rolls work well.
  • Butter, melted for brushing or butter cooking spray for when you grill the Cubano's.
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • juice of 8 valencia oranges, or sour oranges or buy some mojo from your local store.
  • dried oregano.  Actually not sure if this is a traditional ingredient in the Cuban mojo but folks love my recipe.
Many of us will NOT have a huge 'plancha' to grill our Cubano's but a George Foreman or any other grill, or a throw it in a pan and set another on top will do!  However you grill/panini press will do.

Juice your oranges and blend with your garlic cloves, oregano for about two cups of liquid.
  • Salt and pepper your pork generously, sear off well in your cooking vessel like a Creusset.  If not using a Creusset or equivalent, sear off in a frying pan then transfer to whatever vessel you will be placing into the oven.  Pour your mojo (the juice/spice blend) over the pork roast.  Bake low and slow depending on how much pork roast you have about 20 minutes per pound at 325.  Temp the meat if not slice through and make sure you have no rawness as will depend on the type of pork cut you purchased.  A pork butt/shoulder will probably need a bit more time than a tri tip or roast.  
  • When done cooking pull from oven and set on your slicing platter to rest for about another 20 minutes or longer if needed before slicing fairly thin for your Cubano's  Can also be put in the fridge if making for a get together the next day.   You don't need it to be hot nor warm really for this sandwich.  
While the pork is setting time to gather your ingredients for assembling.  
  • If not in Florida will not have access to that Cuban bread but any good soft anything will do.  If utilizing a loaf, just assemble, cut to fit your grill or pan.  Francisco brand French rolls worked very well for my size George Foreman.  
  • Cut loaf in half or your rolls in half.  Spread generously both sides with the yellow mustard.  
  • First layer is your roasted pork and then your deli ham.
  • I add the pickles or spicy peppers next then top with the cheese.  Because when you grill it keeps he pickled aspect from being pushed out by the cheese as it melts.  Basically holds those yummy pickled goodness in place.  
  • Spray butter cooking spray or real butter on the bottom of your grill press, place the Cubano on there and them spray the top of the sandwich or butter and start to grill press.  I usually do on high but check often that the top is not being moved off.  I mean home panini presses are not the big dogs in the market so just do what you have to do to make sure they are being grill pressed at the even angle to where all stays in place.  
There is not right or wrong time to grill, just pull them when they look deeeelicious I cannot wait to eat you golden!
I normally serve with Frijoles de Cubano Negro is what a friend calls them.  She makes them by scratch but I cheat.  C'mon now I have a day job, a side business and love of eating!  If want to make them my cheater recipe is super simple.  
  1. Chopped green bell pepper 1/2 cup
  2. Chopped onion  1/2 cup
  3. Chopped garlic -heaping tablespoon
  4. Red Wine Vinegar! - tablespoon or dash to taste

I utilized not the norm size can of anything you get but the larger size of black beans if you can get it or two cans of the norm size you can get in your local supermarket.   Saute the bell pepper, onion and garlic then add your can of beans NOT drained.  Heat through and then and then add the red wine vinegar.  If reluctant about the vinegar try a teaspoon first and then taste but it really does make this bean dish.  
If you want to really book club it up with a book like this add some shoe string potato strings.  I don't know why but they put them on Cuban burgers and often a side in a bag like you would get maybe a bag of Lay's chips with a sandwich.  Add a Cuban coffee or maybe a Mojito if got the girls over for a few drinks over a exciting action packed book. If doing a theme party make the Pastry bite of cream cheese and guava paste or jam.  (Pasteles con queso y guayaba)  But seriously this is one of the best fun sandwiches restaurants just don't do right on the West Coast but come on over to my house... 


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