• Sean Bardwell

Mojo inspired Cuban

A Cuban is one of those iconic sandwiches that a lot of people have their own version of but usually is guaranteed to have: ham, pork, pickles, mustard and swiss and should be pressed to give the bread a perfect crunch.

I vaguely remember the first time my mom made a Cuban at home. The thing that sticks out the most to me was her using a brick wrapped in tin foil.

When I was the Cafe manager at Brown's we had a version using my PIT smoked pulled pork & Brown's ham. It was pretty tasty yet I still felt that somehow, I could make a better version.

About a month ago I was watching the movie Chef for about the millionth time, love that movie. I again had a desire to make the perfect Cuban, my perfect Cuban. I feel that I finally have but I'll share my recipe and let you judge for yourself!

There are 2 key ingredients that I think make my Cuban stand out from any other Cuban. The first is the Pork. You can use a pork loin, roast, butt (I used babyback ribs once)...whatever type of pork you'd like as long as it's seasoned and marinated with the following: S&P, cumin, oregano, orange juice & zest, lime juice & zest and minced garlic.

For this one I used a pork loin and smoked it. For the recipe I'll share how to cook it in the oven.

The second key ingredient is my Mojo Mustard. I essentially add the same ingredients I used for the pork, to mustard. I also add a little honey and chili paste (I'm a big fan of Gochujang but you can use what you prefer).

Once you've got the pork and mustard made, it's time to build your Cuban.

I like to build my Cuban upside down, it just seems easier to cook that way.

To cook it, I heat a skillet over medium-low heat. I put the sandwich, top side down first (which is why I build it upside down). Then you want to press it down and keep weight on it. If you don't have a brick on hand like my mom, you can flip over a smaller saucepan and use that. Just make sure that you press it down and keep weight on it (I don't suggest holding it down with your hand because the heat will rise and make that pan hot). Once the first layer of cheese is nice and melty, you want to flip it over and repeat.

Cut it open and enjoy!

A friend of mine and I agree that a perfect sandwich is one you can eat cold the next day and it is just as good, if not better than it was the day before. This Cuban is amazing cold the next day!


Mojo inspired Cuban

Yields: 2 sandwiches

Mojo Pork

1 lb pork loin

1/2 tsp S&P

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp oregano

1 TBL lime juice & zest

1 TBL orange juice & zest

1 clove of garlic, minced

Season the pork with the S&P, cumin, and oregano. Zest the lime and orange over the pork. Pour both juices over it and add the garlic. Marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Place the pork on the baking sheet. Pour the marinade over the pork.

Cook for 30-40 minutes or until pork reaches 145. Let rest and then thinly slice.

You can also smoke the pork between 225-250 until it reaches the same temperature.

Mojo Mustard

1 cup yellow mustard

1 TBL honey

2 tsp chili paste

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp cumin

Zest of 1 orange plus 1 TBL orange juice

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 clove of garlic, minced

S&P to taste

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl.

This will yield more than you need but it's so tasty!

4 TBL butter

2 hoagie rolls (I like to cut the ends off)

4 (or more) slices of ham

8 slices of Havarti (or preferred cheese)

8 dill pickle slices (I cut these into smaller pieces so they don't pull off the sandwich when you bite into it)

To build your Cubans:

*remember, I build these upside down

- Butter the top of the top bun

- Spread mustard on the top bun

- Layer the cheese

- Layer the pork

- Layer the ham

- Another layer of cheese

- Pickle slices

- Add the bottom bun and butter it

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add the sandwich, top side down. Using a heavy pan (or foil wrapped brick) press down on the sandwich. Cook until the first layer of cheese is melted, approximately 5 minutes.

Flip the sandwich and repeat.

"Eat this and B well"

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