The Cuban Sandwich (via Pork Tenderloin)

The Cuban Sandwich (via Pork Tenderloin)

In case you haven’t noticed yet, I have a small love affair with pork. In fact, pork tenderloin was my first meat dish to perfect and serve to guests. And pork tenderloin led to pork shoulder, which led to pork loin roasts, which led to stuffed pork chops. It’s basically an endless cycle of pork love.

But my favorite pork leftover dish has to be the cuban sandwich, which actually includes ham so I’m getting a double serving of pork in one dish. My first Cuban sandwich was in a basement restaurant in Soho – Cubana Cafe. I’m not even sure if it still exists. But in Dallas the best Cuban sandwich is at Jimmy’s Food Store. If you haven’t eaten it, you should. And pick up some homemade meatballs while you’re there.

So I’ve made many recipes for pork tenderloin over the years (herb crusted, mustard-glazed, bbq braised), but this recipe is my ultimate favorite. It takes a little longer to cook than other recipes, but the tenderness is worth it.

Pork Tenderloin (from the Cellophane Noodle Salad With Roast Pork recipe, Gourmet, June 2006)

2 medium-sized pork tenderloins
1/4 cup hoisin sauce (I use Whole Foods organic hoisin sauce)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Chinese rice wine or sake
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt

Remove and discard any sinew but do not trim fat from tenderloins. Transfer pork to a large sealable plastic bag. Stir together remaining pork ingredients in a small bowl until combined well. Add to pork and turn to coat, then squeeze bag to eliminate as much air as possible and seal. Marinate pork, chilled, at least 4 hours but no longer than 24.

Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Put 1/2 inch water in a 13- by 9-inch roasting pan and place a metal rack across top of pan (rack should not touch water).

Remove pork from marinade, reserving marinade, and arrange pork strips 1 inch apart on rack. Roast in oven 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring marinade to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan, then boil 1 minute (marinade may look curdled). Remove from heat.

Brush both sides of pork with some marinade and roast 10 minutes more. Generously brush both sides of pork with marinade again and roast, basting 2 or 3 times, 10 minutes more.

Increase oven temperature to 400°F and roast pork until strips are mahogany-colored and caramelized on edges, 10 to 15 minutes more (pork should roast for a total of about 50 minutes). Transfer to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 10 minutes.

The Cuban Sandwich

So I’m obviously not Cuban. And I’m sure there are many authentic ways of making this sandwich, but this one is pretty freaking good. Even if it’s made by a white girl.

Leftover pork tenderloin
Cured ham (I just got mine at the Kroger deli)
Swiss cheese
Dill pickle slices (I used those sandwich stackers)
Mayo (technically you’re not supposed to use mayonaise in a Cuban sandwich, but I don’t care. I think it tastes better with a mustard/mayo blend)
Crusty white bread (I substitute wheat bread most of the time to make me feel better about myself)

Preheat your George Foreman, panini maker or large fry pan.  Spread butter on both halves of bread (outside), spread mustard and mayonaise on both sides (inside). Make each sandwich with the ingredients in this order: pickles,roasted pork, ham, and cheese. Be generous!

NOTE: Most people use a sweet cured ham (jamón dulce) or bolo ham for Cuban sandwiches. If you can find these hams in your area, great. Otherwise, look for a slightly sweet, soft textured ham with a mild taste. You don’t want the flavor of the ham to overpower the rest of the ingredients!

Place the sandwich in your sandwich press or frying pan – you really want to smash the sandwich, compressing the bread to about 1/3 its original size.

Grill the sandwiches for two to three minutes on each side, until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden. Slice the sandwich in half diagonally and serve.

Categories: Inspiration, Main Dish, Recipes

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