Cuban Roasted Pork and Cuban Sandwiches

If you watched the movie The Chef, you probably wanted to eat a Cuban sandwich the entire second half of the movie.  Maybe that’s just my inner fat kid talking but ever since watching that movie I’ve had a hankering for Cuban food.

My favorite spot, Versailles (both in Miami and in LA, different owners I believe), are a little out of reach. I decided to take matters into my own hands and roast a pork leg and make some damn sandwiches!  Isn’t that how all good stories start?

Let’s be honest. Sometimes we just need a good sandwich.

cubano

The ingredients are simple: roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, mustard, pickles.  But simple is definitely not what I would call this sandwich.

All this started with roasted pork marinated overnight in orange, lemon and lime juice with lots of garlic, onion and oregano.  Then I roasted it on high heat to get it crispy then let it cook low and slow for about 4 hours.

I’m not sure how to make a hunk of meat look good, but here it is.

roasted pork

A hunk of meat that got lots of TLC.  Then I sliced it up thin as the base for my cuban sandwiches.  You should know they’re delicious because I’m eating one as I type this.  My keyboard is greasy and I’m ok with that.  So let’s get started.  You start with the pork….

Cuban-Style Roasted Pork

1 pork leg (mine was about 7lbs)
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup lime juice
20 cloves of garlic
1 onion
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
handful of fresh oregano

Cuban Sandwiches

a few slices of cuban-style roasted pork, recipe follows
2 slices of ham
1 slice of swiss cheese
some pickles
some mustard
dang good bread*
a bit of butter (for grilling your sandwich)

In a blender, blend together juices, garlic, onion, salt, pepper and oregano.  Pierce pork as much as you can with a paring knife.  Pour juice mixture over pork leg and marinate overnight.

When ready to roast, preheat oven to 450F.  Transfer leg to a roasting dish and roast at 450F for 20 minutes, reserve the excess marinate.  After 20 minutes, turn down the heat to 300F and continue to cook 4-6 more hours.  If you want it falling off the bones tender, cook it longer.  If you want it sliceable, it should be ready around 4 hours.  If you slice it and it’s still bloody, throw it back in the oven.

While your leg is baking, transfer the excess marinade into a sauce pan and boil for about 5-10 minutes.  This will be the perfect side mojo sauce for dipping your pork in, also great with rice and yucca.

Once you remove the pork from the oven.  Let it chill on the counter for about 10 minutes on its own.  Then slice for sandwiches.  Now you’re ready to assemble your sandwiches.

*A note about “dang good bread.”  Cuban bread is delicious.  It’s soft and wonderful but not always easily accessible.  I used hoagie rolls I found at the grocery store.  It did the job.  Do with that what you will.

Spread your dang good bread with mustard (I like a good amount of mustard on there), then top with pickles, ham, roasted pork slices and swiss cheese.

cubansandwichassemly2

Put the sandwich together and grill it.  If you have a panini press, use that.  If you’re not fancy (like me), put it in a pan with a bit of butter then place another pan on top with a jar of something heavy to weigh it down.  And ta-da! Instant panini press on the cheap.

Allow to cook a few minutes (low and slow is the best way to go so the cheese melts), then flip and cook for a few more minutes until toasted and melty and delicious.

Slice in half and serve.  Repeat with however many sandwiches you’d like to make.

cubansandwich

A whole pork leg will yield a lot of meat, and I understand that this is definitely a process, but trust me, it’s worth it.

So invite your friends over, roast a pork leg and make some sandwiches, then go for a walk because you’ll probably need to walk this off.

What’s your favorite type of sandwich?   This is a tough one for me. This Cuban sandwich was amazing but I also love Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches.  Maybe that should be my next sandwich attempt!  But first… I’m running my first half marathon next Sunday, wish me luck!

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Oven Not-Fried Pickles

A few weeks ago, I moved.  I think I told you about this but in case I didn’t… I moved.  Not far.  Just to the unit downstairs.  You’re probably thinking why go through all the trouble to move all your stuff down stairs?

Answer: For a patio.

You know what patios mean in Southern California? Outdoor space for dinner parties pretty much year round.  When you live in a studio, having people over is awkward.  Oh hey friend, why don’t you sit on my bed while I make you a cocktail and serve you a cheese platter?  Borderline creepy.

Now I have outdoor space where I can have people sit without being a creeper.  My most recent dinner venture was Southern themed.   I’ve never been to the South (well I don’t count Florida as the South.  Do you?) but here’s my south-inspired menu: Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Homemade Coleslaw, Baked Beans and Peanut Butter Cream Pie.

But what’s a dinner party without appetizers?

So in keeping with my Southern theme and the fact that my last impulse buy at the grocery store was a huge jar of pickles, I thought fried pickles might be the right choice.  The only issue is I hate frying things.  So crisis averted…

Oven Not-Fried Pickles

adapted from Skinny Taste

1 jar of pickles (I used dill oval cut chips)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 whole wheat flour
1 tsp cajun spice
pinch of salt
1 egg
2 tbsp milk

In a bowl combine breadcrumbs, cornmeal, flour, cajun spice and salt.

In another bowl beat together egg and milk.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 450F.  Pat dry the pickles using a towel/paper towel.  Dip one into the egg mixture then toss in the breadcrumb mixture.  Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Repeat until all pickles are breaded (or you’re tired of doing this).

Bake 8-10 minutes, flip and bake another 5 minutes or until golden.

Serve hot with ketchup for dipping.

These were winners, but trust me on this.  They taste better when they’re hot… and with a cold beer… and preferably on a patio (not your bed… unless you’re into that kind of thing, in which case I’m not judging).

Is your mouth watering yet?  Mine is.