Cubanos

We recently watched a movie called Chef starring Jon Favreau who was also the writer and director.

Favreau plays an amiable chef who works in a high-end restaurant in Los Angeles. The owner of the restaurant – a controlling, nasty piece of work played by Dustin Hoffman – forces the chef to cook dated dishes he doesn’t want to cook and they end up getting a very bad review.

Encouraged by his Cuban ex-wife the chef quits his job and starts a mobile food truck business with a friend, selling Cuban fast food. It’s a huge success, the chef reconnects with his 10 year old son, remarries his gorgeous ex-wife and everyone lives happily ever after.

The toasted sandwiches called “Cubanos” looked so delicious I decided to do some research and make them for Café Cat. They’re pretty high in cholesterol so I wouldn’t recommend eating them every day!

Cubanos were often eaten for lunch by workers in sugar mills and cigar factories in Cuba in the late 1800s. They are now popular in various parts of the United States, especially Miami.

In the movie they made them with Cuban bread, which looked like a wide baguette called a Flute in France. Any roast pork will do, but if you want authentic Cubanos make the Cuban version below.

I once watched Nigella Lawson make toasted sandwiches in a frying pan with a chopping board and a weight on top. I couldn’t help wondering why she didn’t jusr buy a proper sandwich press. They aren’t expensive and allow you to make toasted sandwiches with any kind of bread or wrap.

Cubanos

Baguettes or large bread rolls
Sliced roast pork (see below)
Sliced ham
Sliced Swiss cheese
Sliced dill pickles
Your favourite mustard
Melted butter

Split baguettes lengthwise and cut into sandwich lengths – about 15cm – or split the bread rolls. Heat up a sandwich press until hot. On one side of the sandwich place a layer of ham, a layer of sliced pork, a layer of sliced cheese and then a few sliced pickles. Spread mustard generously on the other half, then stick the sandwich together. Brush both sides with melted butter, place in sandwich press, close lid and cook until the bread is golden brown and cheese is melting. Serve immediately.

Cuban Roast Pork

2-2½ kg pork shoulder roast
4 tsp salt
1 cup lemon, lime or Seville orange juice
1 bay leaf
3 tsp oregano
3 tsp ground cumin
15-20 cloves garlic, depending on size, peeled

Stab meat all over with a sharp knife to make deep holes.  In a food processor or blender blend salt, fruit juice, bay leaf, oregano and cumin. Pour over the pork and rub in well, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Next day remove pork from fridge and let come to room temperature for a good hour. Preheat oven to 140°C, tip off the marinade and reserve. Roast meat, uncovered for 4-5 hours or until well done. Baste often with the reserved marinade and turn occasionally. Remove from the oven and put the pork on a plate or cutting board. Cover loosely with foil and leave to rest. This pork is enough to feed a crowd with Cubanos.