Cubano Sandwiches

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When I travel or eat out, it’s not unusual for me to run home and try to create some dish I’ve experienced along the way.  But I can’t remember a time when this has happened after watching a movie.  (OK, there was Julie and Julia, but that was a long time ago.)

On Sunday, the entire Morell family went to see Jon Favreau’s utterly charming movie Chef.  This is a must-see summer movie for food lovers.  It has it all: a loveable cast of characters, father-son bonding, romance, countless dreamy food scenes (grilled cheese! beignets! Texas barbecue!), a fabulous soundtrack, and a road trip in a food truck with a big ‘ol pig painted on the side.

Friends have been recommending it all summer long, but somehow it took us a while to get to the local cinema. Let me urge you people… don’t delay.  While people may say action movies are meant for the big screen, I would argue that movies with extended cooking sequences are equally grand in theaters.

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Oh, and a word of warning: don’t go to see this movie if you’re hungry.  Actually, come to think of it, it won’t really matter if you’re hungry or not. You’ll want to find something delicious to eat as soon as you leave.

I’m not sure it’s possible to watch the movie Chef and not want to come home and make a Cubano sandwich.  The crazy thing is, I’m really not much of a sandwich eater, and yet within hours of leaving the cinema, I had pulled out an old Cuban cookbook and was making a shopping list.

Haven’t seen the movie?  Wondering what exactly a Cubano is?  It’s a bit of a pork fest… Pork roast, ham, cheese, mustard and pickles… all on a long buttered roll toasted in the panini press (restaurants use a press called a plancha, but a panini press works every bit as well).

The traditional preparation usually calls for pork shoulder, or a big pork roast, but I decided to use a pork tenderloin, as it usually only takes about an hour to roast.  And you know I’m a busy girl who is often looking for a short cut.

Let me tell you, this was a seriously popular dinner with the family last night.

Perhaps my next career move could involve a food truck?  I’ve always wanted to drive cross-country…

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Cubano Sandwich

Adapted from recipes from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen by Mary Urrutia Randelman and Joan Schwartz

Roast Pork Loin

  • One boneless pork tenderloin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice

In a small food processor, combine the olive oil, oregano, garlic, cumin and red pepper flakes and pulse until a paste forms.  Rub the paste all over the pork tenderloin, then season with lots of salt and black pepper.  Place the roast in a roasting pan or dutch oven, and pour the juices and red wine over it.  Cover, and refrigerate at least two hours, turning the roast several times. (Mine was in the fridge all day)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Insert a meat thermometer into the roast, and place in the oven uncovered.  Roast to an internal temperature of 165 degrees… about an hour.  Baste with the pan juices several times during the cooking process.

When the roast is done, transfer it to a platter, and cover with aluminum foil, and allow it to stand 10 to 15 minutes before carving it into very thin slices.

The Cubano Sandwiches

For each sandwich:

  • 1 long Italian roll
  • five or six slices very thinly sliced pork tenderloin
  • 2 slices thinly sliced good quality deli ham
  • 2 slices thinly sliced provolone cheese
  • 4 thinly sliced dill or bread and butter pickles
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter.

Open the Italian roll and lay it flat. Spread both cut surfaces with the dijon mustard.  Layer one half with pickle slices, cheese, pork and ham, cover with the second side of the roll.  Spread softened butter onto the outsides of the roll.  Place the sandwich on a hot panini press and cook until the cheese is melted and the roll is golden brown.  Serve hot.

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