There’s nothing quite like a good Cubano sandwich. Layer on layer of pork – roasted loin, ham and salami with Swiss cheese, pickles and a schmear of mustard, pressed like a panini until the cheese is melty. On the West Coast, unless you’re at a Cuban restaurant, it’s not a sandwich you see all that often. There are exceptions – the last one I had was actually a couple of years ago at Matt’s in the Market here in Seattle. We also have a Caribbean place called Paseo that’s supposed to have a great Cubano-like sandwich. But really, there’s no reason you can’t make a pretty good Cubano, or perhaps more accurately here, a medianoche sandwich at home. (The main difference is the bread).
The mojo(ish)-marinated pork started as tacos for Saturday night’s dinner, but as I thought about the leftovers, Cuban pulled pork sliders seemed like the perfect lunch for us and a great idea for the Super Bowl next weekend.
The bottled bitter orange (or sour orange) marinade is key. For carnitas I usually use fresh squeezed juice, but the the bottled marinade is more intense than straight citrus, and it’ll come in handy if you ever want to recreate the garlic chicken from Versailles in LA. As for what brand to get, the Latin American market at Pike Place only carried Goya, the recipe on theKitchn recommended La Lechonera.
Once you’ve done the pork in the slow cooker (easy peasy), the rest is just a matter of assembling ingredients. King’s Hawaiian rolls provide a nice sweetness that complements the pork. The addition of salame is apparently a thing in Tampa, but isn’t done in Miami. In Seattle, I’m down with the salame.
Like I said, a real Cubano is pressed, but for a Super Bowl get together, you want to enjoy the game, or else the commercials, not man a panini press. Trying to melt the cheese over the pork one-by-one in a pan was an exercise I didn’t have much patience for and in the end only yielded sort-of melty cheese that quickly gets congealy (meh). For sliders at a party, let’s just honor the flavors. If you make them for a smaller group another time, break out the panini press, or do it on the stove, pressing the sandwich with a heavy pan for the real deal.
- Cuban-Inspired Pulled Pork
- 3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3-4 in. chunks
- 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1 T. ground cumin
- 1 t. salt
- juice of 1 navel orange
- juice of 1 lime
- ¾ c. bitter orange marinade (Goya brand)
- 1 12 pk. King’s Hawaiian rolls
- 12 slices of ham
- 24 slices Genoa salame (I like Columbus' reduced sodium version)
- 24 dill pickle slices
- ½ lb. sliced Swiss cheese
- yellow mustard
- To make the pork, line the bottom of a slow cooker with the onion slices. Season the pork with cumin and salt and put it on top of the onions. Pour over the bitter orange marinade, orange and lime juice. Add the garlic. Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours. There won't be much liquid left, but it shouldn't be completely dry. Shred with forks.
- If using pork cooked the day before, rewarm it slightly. For each slider, halve a Hawaiian roll, layering two slices of salame, a slice of ham folded in quarters, about 2 generous tablespoons of pulled pork, ½ a slice of Swiss cheese and 2 pickle slices. If you like mustard, spread mustard on the top half of the roll.