Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cuban Pork Roast and Sandwiches

I'm all for cooking something that will provide more than one meal. I love to fix a big chunk of meat and then use it forty eleven different ways. (Or maybe just a few less.)

We lived in south Florida for almost five years and developed a taste for Cuban food. Especially their roast pork. Delectable. Mouth-watering. Full of garlicky goodness. Cuban pork roast is all that and more. We like to have it the first night with the full complement of rice, black beans, and fried plantains. Then the second day we slice leftover pork real thin and make succulent Cuban sandwiches.

Am I making you hungry yet?

The trick with a really good Cuban pork roast is to marinate it overnight, letting all those spices and seasonings soak deep into the meat so that every single bite is absolutely bursting with flavor.

4-5 lbs pork roast
3 cloves garlic peeled and slivered
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon oregano, ground
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt, to taste
1 large onion, sliced

Trim excess fat from roast (but not all!) and then make tiny slits all over the roast with a sharp knife and insert the slivers of peeled garlic.
Mix remaining ingredients in a zip lock bag, add roast and marinate in fridge overnight.
The next day you have two options: in the morning you can dump it into a crockpot, on low, and forget about it until evening. (Well, forgetting about it isn't technically possible with all the wonderful smells wafting around your kitchen!)
OR early afternoon preheat your oven to 275° and slow roast, covered, for several hours (figure one hour per pound of meat, so a 4 pound roast would take four hours).


If your family doesn't devour the entire roast in one sitting (which has happened to us a time or two) you can thinly slice the leftover meat and make...

~ 1 loaf Italian or French bread
(or Cuban bread if you're lucky enough to have a source!)
~ mustard (the original recipe calls for plain yellow but I've used stone ground when it's all I had and it worked fine -- obviously I'm not a purist)
~ thinly sliced leftover pork roast
~ thinly sliced ham (any kind you want; it's YOUR sandwich)
~ thinly sliced dill pickles
[are you getting the idea that things HAVE TO BE THINLY SLICED?!]
~ thinly sliced swiss cheese (okay, so that's not so easy to find where I live now; I've used Fontina, Holland and Havarti -- I don't think it really matters; whatever floats your boat)

Slice the bread horizontally so you create one looooooong sandwich. Smear mustard liberally on both slices. Along the bottom half layer ingredients any old way you want. I like to put cheese on the bottom and top, right next to the bread to sort of prevent it from getting soggy from the juicy pickles which I slap right smack in the middle. I'm sure there's probably some kind of law in Cuba about the order in which to correctly place these ingredients, but I'm a rule breaker from way back. Then put the top piece of bread on and start mashing the whole thing as flat as you can. I am not a small person and I put all my weight into the effort, palms down flat against the top of the sandwich and mash, MASH, MASH.

In my U.S. oven I could take the whole sandwich, put it on a cookie sheet, cover it with a little piece of tin foil and then slam my heavy old cast iron skillet on top. We want this sucker FLAT! Here I have a much smaller oven so I have to cut the sandwich in half and lay the two pieces side by side on the smaller cookie sheet I'm able to fit into the itty bitty oven. Then I pop it in the oven at 325° for about 20-30 minutes until the sandwich is hot and the cheese all bubbly. Remove from oven, take the skillet off the top, slice and enjoy! Preferably with chips of your choice.
Wasn't that easy?

You can thank me later, after you've tried them and see how FABULOUS they are :-)

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