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Cubano


Every single time I watch the movie Chef, I am newly inspired and pushed to create more and just chase all my food dreams. Easier said than done for someone with no formal training, but it repeatedly brings me to tears seeing someone go after what they want and get it, especially when it involves food. I am constantly inspired to make the recipes from this movie and this time I decided it would be the Cubano sandwiches. It seemed like such a daunting undertaking, but after doing my research and carving the time into my week, I realized it was achievable and so I decided to give it a shot. I didn’t use the exact recipe from the movie, I changed it up quite a bit and drew inspiration from many other recipes and chef’s. What you see here is what I came up with and I’ll tell ya, this was worth all the research and prep that went into it, 100 times over. When you eat one of these sandwiches, you’ll see why there was a whole movie centered around it. LET’S EAT!


Ingredients


Brine

  • 4 Cups of Orange Juice

  • ½ Cup Rice Vinegar

  • ½ Cup Salt

  • 5 Cloves Garlic

  • 1 Tbsp. Thyme

  • 1 Tbsp. Rosemary

  • 1 Tbsp. Oregano

  • 1 Tbsp. Sage

  • 2-3 Bay Leaves

  • Peppercorns

  • Water (enough to cover the pork, 3-4 cups)

Cuban Bread

  • 1 ¼ Cups Water

  • 1 Tbsp. Yeast

  • 500g Bread Flour

  • 1 Tbsp. Sugar

  • 2 Tsp. Salt

  • 30g Lard

Mojo Sauce

  • Pork Shoulder (4-5 lbs)

  • 2 Heads worth of Garlic

  • 2 Shallots

  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano

  • ½ Bunch Fresh Mint

  • 1 Tbsp. Cumin

  • 2 Serrano Chilies

  • 1 Cup Olive Oil

  • 1 Cup Lime Juice

  • 1 Cup Orange Juice

  • Zest of 2 Oranges

  • Zest of 3 Limes

  • 1 ½ Tbsp. Salt

Sandwich Toppings

  • Cubano Bread

  • Braised Pork

  • Sliced Ham

  • Dill Pickles

  • Yellow Mustard

  • Swiss Cheese

  • Butter


Directions


Pork Brine


Preparation and planning is required for a proper Cubano. If there is skin on your pork shoulder or bone, remove them and try to keep the rest of the shoulder intact. Place it in a bowl (preferably one that has a lid) and add all of your brine ingredients. Orange Juice, Rice Vinegar, Salt, Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Oregano, Peppercorns and Water. Cover your bowl, and place it in the fridge to brine for 24 hours.


Cuban Bread


The morning you’re making your cubanos, it’s time to make your bread. First, activate your yeast in warm water with your sugar for 10 minutes. To the bowl of a stand mixer, add your flour and salt. Once your starter is active, add it to the flour and knead with a dough hook until combined. Once it’s combined, add your lard and continue to mix for another minute or so. Continue to knead on a floured surface for about a minute. Place it in an oiled bowl and cover. Let it rise for an hour or until doubled in size.


Once it has risen, turn your dough out onto a floured surface and cut it in half. Flatten each half out into a rough rectangle, then roll it into a log shape. Then, continue to roll out the dough attempting to make it longer by working your hands from the middle out towards the ends. You should end up with a long baguette shaped dough, about 16-inches long. Place it on a lined baking sheet, do the same with the other half of your dough. Once they’re both on the baking sheet, place another baking sheet on top (or a damp cloth) and let them rest again for about 30 minutes.


Preheat your oven to 400F. After your doughs have rested, score them down the length of the entire bread, spray them with water and place them in the oven. You need to create moisture in the oven, so place an oven proof pan or dish filled with water underneath your bread tray in the oven. Let those steam together for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375F and remove the water dish. Let it continue baking for another 22 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely.


Mojo Sauce and Braised Pork


Preheat your oven to 350F. When your pork has been sitting in it’s bath for about 24 hours, it’s time to make the Mojo Sauce that it will bake in. In a blender, add all of your Mojo Sauce ingredients and blend until smooth. Separate about 1 cup of the liquid for sandwich topping. Remove your pork shoulder from it’s brining liquid and place it in a dutch oven. Pour the rest of your mojo sauce all over your pork shoulder. Put a lid on your dutch oven and bake your pork for 3-4 hours. I like to check on it every hour and give it a turn here and there, in the event it’s not fully submerged.


Once it’s ready, remove all of the pork and put it in a bowl. It should just fall right apart. Scoop out the remaining Mojo Sauce (but be careful not to scoop too much fat with it) and add it to the pork. Give it a real good mix and set aside. It is time to assemble.


Sandwich Assembly


Cut your cuban bread into sandwich lengths and then cut them in half. Brush the inside with butter and carefully toast it in a hot pan until nice and golden brown. Once they’re browned, spread yellow mustard edge to edge on both pieces of bread. Slice your pickles into long thin slices and add those to one of the pieces of bread (tip: buy them whole and slice them yourself so they’ll be nice and crunchy). Add butter to a hot pan and fry your sliced ham on either side until browned. Then add them to your sandwich. Now add a generous amount of your Mojo Braised Pork, your reserved Mojo Sauce and top with Swiss Cheese. I like to broil my cheese for a minute so I know all of it is melted, but it’s not imperative. Close your sandwich and butter the outsides of your bread. In a very hot skillet, brown your sandwich on both sides, like you would a grilled cheese. I didn’t have the fancy press they had in the movie, so I placed a heavy skillet on top of the sandwich to flatten it, but you don’t need to do this.


Once it’s perfectly browned, slice in half and enjoy and think about this sandwich for the rest of your life. This recipe is enough to make 4 sandwiches and I hope there’s only 2 of you so you can have 2 sandwiches all to yourself. You’ll want it.


Thank you Chef for inspiring me endlessly to create new food and follow my dreams. If I make it, it will be all thanks to you.


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