I love Cuban food. I fell in love with it when I began to visit Miami and the Bahamas years ago. The food and the people are just so lovely. Humble, hard working, proud people. The food is fresh, flavorful and just as warm and inviting as the people. One of my favorites is the way they make their pork for Cuban sandwiches. Don’t misunderstand me, I adore Pork Carnitas, but the Cuban pork flavors are a bit different, since I use a traditional marinade for the pork cubes known as a Mojo, which gives the pork a depth that makes it so flavorful and impactful, it is just a sexy kiss on a plate!
The Mojo is an easy thing to accomplish and necessary to the dish. This is the perfect way to enjoy an authentic Cuban sandwich! You could make it the same day, but you need to allow at least 2 1/2 hours, marinade it the day before, but having it pre-made works for me.
Even though this is a two step process, I hope you give it a try. One day is just prep for the marinade, which should be done overnight for the best flavor, and then the next day you are slow cooking in a Dutch oven, or even a slow cooker if you are so inclined. A Instant Pot, even quicker. I think I need to get my hands on this nifty gadget. It’s apparently garnered a cult following and even spurned a religion. Wow, talk about hitting the mark! If you aren’t familiar the Instant Pot is this multifaceted pot, which is super versatile that makes food in rapid succession, it is essentially a pressure cooker that goes above and beyond. I have tried to secure one but I didn’t realize they were a hot thing, and of course I will now have to wait for stores to restock or overpay for one on Amazon, which I refuse to do.
So I’m sure you will be hearing about my exploits using this nifty gadget when I procure one! Until then, it is my trusty Dutch oven! Not that there is anything wrong with that!
I hope you give this one a try! It really is a satisfying, delicious, melty good Cuban sandwich!
Authentic Cuban Paninis
A two step process that is worth the time to make this authentic version of a Cuban classic, that's easy, satisfying, and so delish!
- This dish is perfect on its own. You can make it and serve it with rice and beans and use extras for the sandwiches.
**This can also be used to make sliders in the oven with Hawaiian rolls, using the same premise. Slice the rolls horizontally keeping them together, take the bottoms and place them in a 9×13 baking dish, top with ham, pork, Swiss, pickles then mustard the top part inside. Coat outside tops with a mix of butter and garlic powder, top with poppy seeds, and bake for 15 minutes covered with foil, then take foil off and bake another ten minutes. Perfect for a party!
Credit: CrazySexySavor.com/Susan Mangieri-Maurath
For the Mojo
- 4-5 lb. pork shoulder or Boston Butt
- 6 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 tbsp. of fresh oregano or 1 1/2 tsp. of dried Mexican oregano
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup of orange juice
- 1/4 cup fresh juice from 3 or 4 limes with zest
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp. of Chipolte chili powder
For the Cuban Paninis
- 1 loaf of sourdough or your favorite bakery sliced bread, makes about 6 Paninis.
- 1/2 lb. of ham
- 1/2 lb. of Cuban shredded pork (recipe above)
- 1/2 lb. deli sliced swiss cheese
- dill pickles sliced about 4 or 5 I like to add extra to the sammies
- Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp. of butter
- 1 tbsp. of olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder
For the Pork
- In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix well. Cut pork into 2 inch chunks, coat well with marinade, add to Ziploc nestled in a glass bowl to prevent leaks. Let rest for at least two hours or overnight for best results.
- Remove pork from fridge and let rest at room temperature for thirty minutes. Dry off marinade from meat with a paper towel. Reserve liquid from marinade you will use this to braise pork. Season pork generously with salt and cracked black pepper.
- Set a Dutch oven to heat over medium high heat. Add bacon grease if you have on hand, (I always keep my grease, I suggest you do to, it is so good for this type of cooking and for hearty soups) or add vegetable shortening, to pot, about a tablespoon. Add in pork but do not overcrowd pot you want to sear meat not steam it! Sear until golden on both sides. Remove to plate and finish with remaining pieces. Add all pork back to pot. Add marinade and simmer covered for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until tender and falling off bone. Use immediately or save for later use.
For the Cuban Paninis
- Heat panini press or you can use two frying pans one for the “sammies” and the other for pressing down on the “sammies” while they cook. In a small bowl combine melted butter, EVOO, and garlic powder. Mix well. Brush the outside of the bread with the mixture Begin to assemble “sammie” by coating on slice of bread with Dijon mustard, then placing the warmed pork on top, then two slices of ham, topped with Swiss cheese, then pickles. Lastly coat inside of second slice of read with a generous helping of Dijon mustard. Coat outside of bread with butter mixture, then toast on panini press until warmed through and cheese is goeey! Continue making as many sammies as you need.
- Let cool for a minute or two then dig in! Pure perfection!