Let’s blame the pickles.
We have so many spicy garlic dill pickles in the fridge (thank you, cucumber harvest!). They are super tasty to munch on, but we needed a way to enjoy them other than straight out of the jar.
Enter: the Cuban sandwich.
A traditional Cuban sandwich includes mustard, shredded pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles. They’re served grilled and hot and they are scrumptious. It’s not a Cuban without the pickles, so we went for it! I came across a ridiculously easy recipe for a Cuban-style roast which would work perfectly for the sandwiches. Holy YUM!
Here’s how I made the roast. I placed a couple pounds of pork loin in a baking dish. I drizzled it with olive oil and sprinkled it generously with salt and pepper. I shook a packet of onion soup mix over the meat, added a chopped onion around it, and poured about an inch of chicken broth in the dish. That’s all there was to it! I wrapped it tightly with foil and baked it at 400 degrees, then turned the heat down to about 250 for another three hours.
The recipe warned not to open the foil until the three hours were over, and I didn’t. When I did finally peek at the pork, it was braising away in a delicious onion-y liquid. A test with a fork proved it was literally falling apart, and a sneaky taste made my eyes open wide- unbelievable flavor!
The recipe made quite a bit of pork roast. I took some of it out for the Cubans and saved the rest in the braising juices for other fabulous meals. Deli ham, sliced Swiss cheese, stoneground mustard, and a loaf of crusty French bread… let’s make some Cubans!
I started by spreading plenty of mustard on all slices of bread. Next, I layered cheese on both sides. Then came the pork party: shredded pork roast on one half and ham slices on the other. Finally, the item that triggered the whole Cuban sandwich experiment- pickles! I added a few of the jalapenos from the pickle jar, too. We like it hot!
The sandwiches went into the panini maker (a grill pan with something heavy on top would work, too!). I pressed them well, since they were seriously thick sammies. When the cheese started dripping down the side and the crust of the bread was toasted and crunchy, the sandwiches were ready. Look at that beauty! I love seeing the pickles peeking out, begging you to take a bite.
There’s not a lot to say about the Cubans besides WHOA. They were spectacular. The pork roast brought a slight onion flavor from its cooking juices. The salty ham and creamy melted cheese added more flavor dimension, and the crunch of the tart and spicy pickles brought it all home. We spoke very little during dinner, amazed at how tasty the Cubans turned out to be!
You could use traditional yellow mustard instead of Dijon, but I like that additional bite. The only thing I might add (even though it wasn’t necessary) would be a cup of the braising liquid to dunk the sandwich in. Everyone loves a little au jus!
The next night, we dined on the Cuban pork roast again. This time, I served it over cilantro-lime rice and black beans cooked with onion, jalapeno, and sweet pineapple chunks. We scooped bites into warm tortillas and swooned again at the meat’s flavor. One thing is for sure: we have a new recipe on rotation in this house! And it all started with the pickles. I think I should revise my opening statement.
blame thank the pickles.
Cuban-style Pork Roast (recipe found here)
- 2-3 lb. pork tenderloin
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 1 package of onion soup mix
- About 1 cup chicken broth
- Salt, pepper, olive oil
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place pork loin in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the soup mix (it’s ok if a lot goes into the dish). Place the onion chunks around the pork. Pour about an inch of chicken broth into the dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
After a half an hour, reduce the heat to 250 degrees. Don’t open the foil and let the pork cook for 3 hours. Store the pork in the onion-y juices and use for shredded pork tacos, serve over rice and beans, or make fabulous Cuban sandwiches. YUM.
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