Here’s one of the things I love about my husband: he likes to try new things. He loves exploring new cities, new restaurants, new stores, new beaches, new bars, new everything. He’s always up for a new experience, no matter what the unpredictable outcome may be. And trust me, we’ve had some doozies. But I do really appreciate this about him because he gets the most out of life, and as his wife I get the honor of being along for the ride.
One such “ride” was a 3+ mile walk, in sandals, in 80+ degree heat to a little Cubano shop in Miami. He’s been on a lifelong quest for the best Cubano – probably his favorite sandwich of all time – and this excursion was the holy grail. I’ve still got the scars from the blisters to prove it.
Since that day, he’s infused that love of a good Cubano with his excitement for new recipes. The two recipes in today’s blog happened exactly that way. The first recipe, a classic Cubano, he found from YouTube star Binging With Babish inspired by the movie Chef. (P.S. This guy’s YouTube channel is awesome, he recreates iconic dishes in movies. Definitely check it out!). The final product was so out of this world, it almost brought a tear to my eye, like I was back on South Beach ordering from the window in Spanish. Ok the Spanish part may be an embellishment.
We did learn that the two tricks to a good Cubano are 1.) good bread – we used regular french loaf, which was good – but next time we will definitely use something softer and maybe sweeter and 2.) patience. Let those flavors marinate! This is a great casual dish to make for a group of people and while it’s time-consuming and a bit high maintenance, it’s worth every minute. And if you have a panini press to press the Cubanos, even better.
The second recipe below is a twist on a Cubano that Matt found on SkinnyTaste, a Cubano Chicken Roll up. Ours certainly didn’t photograph as pretty as hers, but damn was it delicious! A much lighter option and easier to make, but still packs a ton of flavor. Also great to make for a group of people because you can prep it ahead of time and then put it in the oven when you’re close to serving. We cut the recipe in half but you can also just make a single serving of it.
Ingredients (lots of them so keep scrolling):
- 1 bone in pork shoulder roast (about 4 pounds)
For the Brine
- 4 cups orange juice
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup rice wine vinegar
- ½ cup spiced rum
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- A whole head of garlic, crushed
- 2-3 stems fresh oregano, coarsely chopped
- 2-3 stems fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
- 2-3 stems thyme
- 2-3 stems fresh sage, coarsely chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ cup olive oil
- Juice and zest of three oranges
- Juice, zest, and carcasses of six limes
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup chopped mint
- 1 head crushed garlic
- 2-3 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground and toasted cumin
- 1 loaf Pan Cubano (if you can find it. Soft white/ long Italian rolls will work, as well)
- ~ 16 slices Polish or cooked ham (no skin)
- 1 jar of dill pickle ovals
- ~ 16 thin slices swiss cheese
- Yellow mustard (to spread on each sandwich)
- Butter (to spread on each sandwich)
- Remove skin from roast and score the fat (make small knife cuts along the top); place in a large bowl.
- In another bowl, combine all brine ingredients and pour over roast. Make sure it’s fully submerged. Cover and refrigerate 12-24 hours.
- The next day, combine and whisk together all marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Remove roast from brine, pat dry, and place in a clean bowl. Cover with marinade, give it a solid rub, cover and refrigerate two hours.
- Place roast on a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet, baste with marinade, and place in 350-degree oven for 2 ½ -3 hours, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Let meat rest about 30 minutes.
- To assemble the Cubano, we buttered the bread, and charred it a bit on a hot pan, also coated in butter. We then pulled the bread off, and laid it out to assemble the sandwiches. The pork went on first – chopped finely into small chunks, or pulled (if you can manage). We then laid the ham over top of the pork – 2-3 slices per sandwich. On top of the ham went the Swiss cheese – 2-3 slices as well. Then slather yellow mustard over top of the cheese, and lay pickle ovals up and down the length of the cheese/ bun. Put the top piece of bread back on top, and butter the top of the roll lightly, and place into the oven for 2-3 minutes, OR back onto the pan/ press until the cheese begins to melt a bit.Makes 8 servings.
Recipe 2: SkinnyTaste’s Cubano Chicken
- 4 (1 lb) thin boneless chicken cutlets
- 1 1/4 cups pickle juice (enough to cover chicken)
- 4 teaspoons mustard
- 4-6 slices of thin sliced deli ham (Polish or cooked ham – no skin)
- 4-6 slices of Swiss cheese
- 12-16 dill pickles (“chip” or oval-shaped)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup seasoned panko
- cooking spray or oil
- Place chicken in a shallow bowl and cover with pickle juice (enough to cover completely). Marinate in the refrigerator for minimum 8 hours, you can do this before you go to work or the night before.
- After 8 hours, drain and dry the chicken completely on paper towels; discard marinade.
- Preheat oven to 425F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or oil.
- Spread 1 teaspoon of mustard over each piece of chicken.
- Layer the ham on top, then the Swiss cheese and pickles along the center and roll. Matt used a toothpick to keep all together.
- Place egg in a medium bowl.
- In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and panko. Dip chicken in the egg wash, then into the breadcrumb mixture and shake off excess.
- Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spray the top generously with cooking spray or oil. Bake 25 minutes, until golden outside and cooked through.
- Remind your guests to remove the toothpicks and enjoy!
Makes 4 servings.