Friday, October 18, 2013

Easy Band-friendly Cuban Sandwich

So, I love cuban sandwiches (cubanos); those warm-toasty-crusty-pressed things stuffed with roast pork, ham, cheese and pickles.  YUM.

But, unfortunately, since my lap-band surgery in 2010, due to the fact that lap-bands and bread do not play nice together they have been off limits.  Until now. . .

Last week I was having lunch in Sophies Cuban Cuisine in lower Manhattan.  While I was eating, I noticed a guy behind the counter pre-making about 3 dozen cubanos and I was so mesmerized that my brain began working over-time trying to figure out how I could have one.

Suddenly, it dawned on me. . . TORTILLAS!  Ever since my surgery I have come to rely on flour tortillas as a substitute for all kinds of bread products - Hamburger "Rolls", peanut butter and jelly sandwhichs, meatball heroes, you name it - even pizza! So why not a cubano.  As an added bonus I almost always have them in my fridge. So I went about gathering the ingredients and set out to experiment.

CUBAN SANDWICH INGREDIENTSClockwise from bottom left: Shaved uncooked pork, swiss cheese,
dill pickle "sandwhich slices", mustard, adobo seasoning, burrito size flour tortilla, deli ham
A particular concern when making a proper cubano is what about the roast pork (the essential ingredient in my book)?  Do I have to roast an entire shoulder for 4-5 hours just to have a sandwich?  Am I relegated to only having cubanos as "left-overs" on the rare occasions when I do make a roast?  Fortunately, the answer to all of the above is "No."  I found a product in my local Shoprite called "shaved pork" which is very thinly sliced raw pork and it is perfect for making cuban sandwiches at almost any time. Also, I have used a method which does not require any special equipment, like a sandwich press.

Label for Old Neighborhood Shaved Pork
A word about mustard: Recipes for cubanos all say to use plain yellow mustard.  I don't particularly like plain yellow mustard so I used Jack Daniels Old No. 7 deli-style mustard.  Any deli-style or dijon mustard should do just fine.

So without further ado:


Ingredients (makes 1 sandwich):
2 oz (approx) raw shaved pork or 2 ozs sliced or cuban style roast pork (pernil)
Adobo seasoning to taste (I used the "light" which has less salt)
1-2 cloves fresh garlic peeled and put through a press
1 slice boiled or deli-style ham
1 or 2 slices swiss cheese (depending on size and thickness)
1-2 dill pickle spears or sandwich slices (preferred)
1 12 inch (burrito size) flour tortilla
2 tsp soft margerine or softened butter
1-2 tsp vegetable oil
Cuban style mojito sauce (optional)
Mayonnaise (optional)

     Roasted pork substitute (easy version)
If you happen to have left over roast pork, skip to assembling the sandwich.

1. Place the raw shaved pork on a plate or cutting board.  Sprinkle with adobo seasoning. Turn and sprinkle some more.
2. Heat the vegetable oil over medium low heat in a skillet or saute pan.  When the oil is heated, but not too hot, add the pressed garlic and saute for 20-30 seconds.
3. Add the shaved pork and saute, turning a few times until just cooked through (no longer pink).  Try to avoid over-cooking or browning.  This should only take a minute or 2. Remove from heat and assemble the sandwich.
Shaved pork cooking

Shaved pork is cooked
   Assembling the sandwich
1. Put the tortilla on a plate or board. Spread mustard on one half of the exposed side, leaving  about 1-2 inches at the bottom and on each side uncovered.  If using mayo, spread it on top of the mustard:

2. Place the cooked/roasted pork evenly over the mustard:

3. Cover the pork with the ham slice.  If adding mojito sauce, spread it on top of the ham:

4. Add the pickle slice(s):

5. Top with the Swiss cheese:

6. Fold the 2 sides in over the edges of the ham and cheese. Fold the small flap that you left free of mustard up, then fold the other half of the tortilla over. Moisten the inside edge of the large flap to help it seal.  Carefully turn the package over on the board or plate and set it seam side down.  Spread 1/2 of the softened butter or margarine (about 1 tsp) on the side that is facing up.

Cooking/Pressing the Sandwich

1.  Heat a large skillet (big enough to easily old the sandwich) or griddle over medium-low to medium heat.

2.  When hot, add the remaining butter/margerine to the middle.  As soon as it melts and is bubbly, place the unbuttered (seam side) on the griddle:

3.  Cook on the first side for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Adjust the heat to avoid burning or over-browning it.

4.  Carefully turn the sandwich over and place a pot 2/3 filled with hot water on top of the sandwich to press it while it cooks on the second side.

5. When the second side is golden brown - about 2 minutes - remove the pot, turn the sandwich again and put the pot on the browned side.  Cook another minuted or 2 until the second side is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

6.  Remove to a cutting board and cut it in half on an angle.  Plate and engjoy:

'Til next time, keep your knives sharp and your fingers out of the way!

Barrister DEW

Friday, December 21, 2012

Random Musings

1. As a New Yorker, I think The Michael Kay Show, weekdays from 3p-7p on ESPN Radio New York 98.7 FM, is the best sports talk radio around. Michael and his co-host, Don (not Dom) LeGreca strike the perfect balance between hard sports and make bonding banter and entertainment. You should check them out. I think they are way better than Mike without eve Mad Dog (and maybe even with). They stream live on the net. You can also listen on the ESPN Radio app and on the Tunein app.

2. I'm having Krugman withdrawal

3. I love Holiday parties.

4. Winter weather without snow is just cold and gray.

5. Crazy Wayne and the NRA needed a whole week to come up with this? Really?? I just hope the legislators who take their marching orders from this wing-nut and his cohort feel it was worth the wait.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Delicious Steak au Poivre

As promised, here is the lowdown on the steak au poivre I made for dinner last night.  Although I promised a few photos, I got ambitious and decided to video the whole process on my trusty Droid Razr Maxx. The result is embedded below.  It's my first foray into video blogging, so please be understanding of the underwhelming production values, bad lighting and spotty audio.  The recipe, which is essentially my own which I have been making for years, and then standardized recently with the help of Alton Brown and "Good Eats", follows the video.

Enjoy, and leave your comments below.

Recipe for Steak au Poivre

  • 2 tenderloin steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each and no more than 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • 1/3 cup Cognac, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour prior to cooking. Sprinkle all sides with salt.

  2. Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, the bottom of a cast iron skillet, or using a mallet and pie pan. Spread the peppercorns evenly onto a plate. Press the fillets, on both sides, into the pepper until it coats the surface. Set aside.

  3. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter and oil begin to turn golden and smoke, gently place the steaks in the pan. For medium-rare, cook for 4 minutes on each side. Once done, remove the steaks to a plate, tent with foil and set aside. Pour off most of the excess fat, covering about 2 teaspoons but do not wipe or scrape the pan clean.

  4. Over medium low heat, saute the shallots until they are translucent.

  5. Off of the heat, add 1/3 cup Cognac to the pan and carefully ignite the alcohol with a long match or firestick. Gently shake pan until the flames die. Return the pan to medium heat and add the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Add the teaspoon of Cognac and season, to taste, with salt. Add the steaks back to the pan, spoon the sauce over, and serve.
'Til then, keep your knives sharp and your fingers out of the way!


Mike Huckabee is a Big Fat Idiot! (Apologies to Michael Moore)

My mother, may she rest in peace, spent her entire childhood and early adult life in Newtown, CT, the site of the recent horrific tragedy involving the senseless slaughter of 20 young school children. My grandparents lived there until they died. My very first bank account was at the Newtown savings bank. Sundays during my childhood were often spent at their little white two story home on Glover Avenue, a few houses in from the corner of Main Street. Newtown as I remember it was a sleepy little affluent Fairfield County town out of some Norman Rockwell painting. This tragedy saddens me on more levels than one can imagine.

Which brings us to Mike Hucksterbee and the Faux News Channel. On Friday, December 14, 2012 - another December "day that will live in infamy" - Mike Hucksterbee went on "Fox News and Friends" on the Faux News Channel to say this:

He then followed it up two days later, on December 16, 2012 with this "explanation":

In response, circulated an on-line petition to ask Faux News to censure Hucksterbee and remove him from the air. I signed this petition and shared it on Facebook with this caption:  "More outrageous huckstering from Faux News and their shill-of-the-day Mike Huckster-bee! Tell Faux Need that this is unacceptable now and always!" 

My 20 year friend and colleague Eric Turkewitz (author of the excellent New York Personal Injury Law Blog) responded:
DEW: Option two is to let him talk, and talk, and talk. And let the world see him for what he is.
There is no bigger advocate of the First Amendment than me, but Hucksterbee's comments disrespect the lives and tragic, senseless deaths of those innocent children as well as the suffering of all who mourn for them, most especially their families. While he had every right to say it, I think Faux News has a moral responsibility to take away his bully pulpit until he develops a more appropriate filter. As consumers, we have the right, and in my opinion, the responsibility to pressure them into doing so.

'Til then, keep your knives sharp and your fingers out of the way!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Late Night Musings (no cooking)

I'd just like to say, to anybody that might be out there reading, that if you are not reading Paul Krugman's blog on the New York Times website every day, then you are not well informed on the U.S. and global economies. You (likely) don't know about VSP's, deficit scolds, bond vigilantes, the confidence fairy, the austerity bomb and why the U.S. is not in danger of becoming Greece, just to name a few.  I don't care if you agree with him or not, he is absolutely essential to a complete understanding of the economic issues facing us now.

Holiday Spirit(s)

Angel's Envy bourbon. For my money it just doesn't get any better. Lincoln Henderson has created something truly special here. Hand-crafted. Aged in charred oak barrels (of course.) Finished in port barrels, which is the real key.

So drink up, and have a Merry Christmas or other seasonal holiday of your choice and inclination.

'Til then, keep your knives sharp and your fingers out of the way!


Mai Tais

While I'm drinking one, I thought I'd share my own very good (I never said I was humble) Mai Tai recipe, so here goes:

2 shots sweet and sour mix
1 shot gold rum
1 shot pineapple rum (I prefer Malibu)
1 shot orange liqueur, like Gran Gala
1 shot amaretto
Dark rum for floating

Fill a large shaker about 3/4 of the way with crushed or cracked ice. Add all ingredients except the dark rum. Shake really well until very cold. Fill 2 lowball glasses about 1/2 way with crushed ice. Pour the shaken drinks evenly between the 2 glasses, leaving about 1/2 to the rim. Float dark run on top of the each glass. Garnish if that's your thing with an orange slice and stick of fresh pineapple. Pretend you are in Hawai'i.