The ever so delicious Cuban sandwich aka “cubano” is a variation of a ham and cheese sandwich with a heap of roast pork marinated in mojo sauce and sliced pickles. It was born in the sunny state of Florida around 1800 - early 1900s when cuban migrants migrated over for work. Fast forward to now and it is known as one of Florida’s signature dishes!
The cubano is a humble sandwich with only 6 crucial ingredients. Roast pork being the main one followed by ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, a long roll, and butter. The roast pork, usually the pork shoulder or butt, is marinated anywhere from 2 hours to up tp 24 hours in a mojo sauce. It’s a marinate that is packed with fresh garlic, fresh oregano, ground cumin, and two types of citrus, usually oranges and lime. This citrus combination creates a flavor profile similar to “naranja agria” aka sour orange. The sourness of the citrus not only gives it flavor but also helps break down the tough cut of meat into something insanely tender and delicious.
The other components worth noting in a cubano that is different from the rest is the bread that is used. It’s a very very soft long roll. The inside is similar to what I think a cloud would feel like. I’m lucky that I live in a prominently Spanish neighborhood so access to cuban bread is less one block away. However, a soft french roll would work perfect since the third key to a good cubano is a “plancha”. It’s similar to a panini press but with no grill marks. My way of DIY-ing it was using and extra heavy bottom pan to squish it down from a heaping 4 inch sandwich to a manageable 1 inch. The labor and love of this sandwich was 100% worth it.
Roasted Pork in Mojo Sauce
4 -5 lb pork butt or shoulder
3 bulbs of garlic (separated, trimmed & hulled)
2 tablespoons of salt
2 tablespoons of cumin
1/3 cup of fresh oregano or 1/4 cup of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of black pepper
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Start by cleaning and pat drying your pork. Trim off any excess fat around the bottom/side but leave the top with the fat cap on. Place into a large pan with high sides or ziplock bag. Then juice your oranges and limes into a food processor. Peel 3 head of garlic and trim off the root end.
Add all the garlic into the food processor as well as the salt, cumin, oregano, black pepper, and olive oil. Blend for about 3 minutes or until you have a nice marinade. The garlic should be broken down and it should have a white greenish yellow color.
Pour all the marinade into your pan/bag and cover with plastic wrap or seal shut. Leave in the fridge to marinate for 2 hour or at most overnight.
When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 300F and place your pork along with all its juices into a roasting pan. Cover with foil and roast for 4 hours.
After the 4 hours is up, add in 1/2 cup of water to the pan so nothing dries out and burns. Remove the foil and roast for another 1 hour or until the pork has no resistance when you poke it with a fork.
Take it out and let it cool for 10 minutes before you shred it up! You can pour the reduced marinate over the shredded pork if wanted.
1/3 cup of roasted pork
2 sliced of ham
2 slices of cheese
A couple pickles
1 soft long roll
A little bit of butter
1 tablespoon of mustard
Start by slicing your long roll in half lengthwise. Then add your ham, roast pork, cheese, and then pickles. Spread on some mustard and close your sandwich.
Spread butter on the top and bottom of the sandwich like you would a grilled cheese.
Get a pan on medium heat and add in your sandwich. Grab a heavy pan that is smaller than the one you are using and squish the sandwich down.
Once one side is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip the sandwich over and let the other side get nice and golden brown.
Once your sandwich has flattened out and has a golden brown exterior, slice it in half, and enjoy!!