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

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