I love roast pork. But since a roast is typically 3+ lbs. and I don’t much like leftovers (as you might know), when roast pork is on the menu, I have plans for the extra servings: Cuban sandwiches and tacos.
First, the roast. I get the sirloin, which weighs in at 3.5 lbs. with the bone. De-boning takes off ½ lb. and I save the bone in the freezer for some future soup or stock. I slather the roast with a paste of salt, pepper, olive oil and several cloves of minced garlic. I think about 8 or so. Really, it was 3 regular cloves and one monster elephant garlic clove that may have been the equivalent of 5 or more regular cloves. Anyway, it was a lot.
I tie the roast, and let it come up to room temperature for 30 minutes. Then, into the preheated oven (325°) until the internal temperature reaches 150°, about 40 minutes. It comes out tender and very garlicky. If you don’t really love garlic, it is possible that you might think I’ve used a bit too much garlic this time. But only if you don’t love garlic and don’t have two more dishes planned that also require garlic.
I will reveal at this time that the real reason I make a roast pork, forcing me to find ways to use the leftovers, is because I love love love Cuban sandwiches. The version I prepare this time isn’t all that traditional but it is “really excellent,” according to the head taster.
- Bread: Not having planned ahead to make my own Cuban bread, I use the mini pita bread made in-house at Your DeKalb Farmers Market. It’s not really (OK, at all) like Cuban bread, but it is not like the manufactured pre-packaged pita bread, either. It has more moisture and more bready plumpness. And, in theory, it’s a reasonable portion size. If you want to make your own Cuban bread, try the recipe at this link.
- Roast Pork: We got garlic. But, if purpose roasted, one would have marinated the pork in mojo sauce, which also includes sour orange juice and cumin. I make the mojo sauce at this link including all the garlic and doubling the cumin. After the sauce is done, I leave ¼ cup in the pan and add enough thick slices of roast pork for two sandwiches. I simmer gently for a brief minute or two to infuse the mojo.
- Ham: This will disappoint you, but I don’t make my own ham. I buy the Patak Gypsy ham from YDFM. I like this one for its real-meat texture and nice smoky flavor.
- Cheese: I was shopping for the required Swiss cheese and I said to myself, “Self, would it not be better to have cave aged gruyere?” And my self answered, “Yes.” Almost as important as the excellence of the cheese itself, is the technique by which it is applied to the sandwich. It must not be sliced. It must not be chunked. It must be grated. I promise.
- Pickles: There is a small addiction problem in our house concerning the sweet and very spicy Wickles, self-proclaimed and personally confirmed “wickedly delicious pickles.” This pickle is not Cuban-sandwich-traditional, but I can’t help myself. You can pick up a jar at Sawicki’s.
- Mustard: Possibly the most important ingredient (and possibly another serious addiction). I buy the Delouis fils Dijon mustard by the 30 oz. jar and I don’t skimp on its application to this sandwich: a good ¼ cup each. That stuff is magic.
All assembled and with a bit of a smear of butter on top and bottom, the sandwiches are transferred to a hot skillet, covered with a slip of foil and weighted with a cast iron press. It takes just a few minutes to toast the bottom and when flipped, a few more minutes toast the top. Because all the ingredients are warmed or room temperature the brief toasting is enough. Because the cheese is grated and the toasting is brief, it melts just enough while retaining its flavor. The result is a perfect melding of flavors.
If you want someone else in Decatur to make your Cuban, Burnt Fork BBQ offers one on their in-house baked Cuban bread, and Java Monkey has a “Cubanini” that features house-made pork roast and prosciutto instead of ham. Quite good, I think.
The rest of the roast pork finds a happy home nestled in some Pork Tacos. Assembly starts with a generous bed of cilantro atop soft flour tortillas, followed by the warmed and chopped pork, and sliced green onion. Since I have a bit of the mojo sauce left, I spoon some onto the pork. On the side, I serve a generous portion of vegetable slaw with a mango lime jalapeño dressing. Yes, still obsessed with slaw, but since I rarely make it the same way twice, it always seems new.