Put The Buena Vista Social Club on the stereo and invite over a few friends to make a weeknight trip to Cuba! Put on your best cabana shirts and keep a limbo pole on hand!
Pork tenderloins, Cuban style:
- 1 2/3 to 2 pounds pork tenderloin, 2 pieces, the average weight of 1 package, trimmed
- Extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil, for drizzling
- 1 small onion, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 limes, zested
- 1 large orange, zested
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Cuban sweet rolls:
- 8 crusty rolls, such as Portuguese rolls, torpedo loaves or muffuletta style round rolls
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 cup corn oil, 4 turns of the pan
- 4 black (ripe) plantains
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
Relish for sandwiches:
- 6 dill pickles, chopped
- 1/2 cup sweet red pepper relish
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1 pound shaved ham, from the deli counter
- 1 pound shaved Swiss cheese, from the deli counter
- 4 tablespoons butter, for toasting sandwiches
- Frozen Mojito Slushes, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Coat tenderloins with oil. Combine onion, garlic, citrus zest, salt, pepper and dried oregano in a pile on your cutting board. Pack this coating equally and evenly onto the tenderloins. Heat a large skillet. Add a drizzle of oil and sear tenderloin on all sides. Then place in hot oven to roast 20 to 25 minutes. Wash hands.
Brush rolls with a little warm water and sprinkle the tops of the rolls with 1/2 teaspoon sugar each. Pile rolls on a baking sheet and place in oven with meat for 5 minutes to crust rolls and set sugar. Authentic Cuban rolls used for this sandwich are sweet. This sugar wash process gives a similar effect to store bought rolls. When rolls come out of oven, split and pile on serving plate.
Preheat a stovetop griddle over medium high heat.
Heat 1/4 cup corn oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Peel plantains and cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then slice each 1/2 into thirds on an angle. Arrange plantains in pan in a single layer and cook until crisp, continuously flipping for even browning. Remove from skillet to paper towel lined plate and season with fine salt.
To assemble sandwiches: Thinly slice meat on an angle. Place ham and Swiss cheese on a serving plate, separating and fluffing up the shaved meat and cheese. Assemble sandwiches with desired fillings and place on a hot, buttered griddle. Use a heavy pan to press the sandwiches together. Toast until golden brown, then flip and toast the other side.
Spread the relish on the tops of the rolls and pork slices, ham, and swiss cheese on the bottoms. Press the sandwiches together. Put about 1 tablespoon of butter on the hot griddle and spread to coat. Put 2 sandwiches at a time on the griddle, and top with a heavy cast-iron skillet. Toast sandwiches on the griddle, turning once, until golden, hot, and cheese is melted, 2 or 3 minutes per side.
Serve with a few slices of plantains per person as a side dish. Frozen Mojitos Slushes make a great drink or dessert.
Frozen Mojito Slushes:
For every 4 slushes, you will need:
8 shots light rum
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 tray ice cubes
In a blender, combine 1/2 pint sorbet or 1/2 can of lime aid with 4 shots of rum, 1/4 cup mint leaves and 1/2 tray of ice. Pulse, then blend on high until lime-mint slush is smooth. Pour drinks into 2 large cocktail glasses using a long handled spoon and repeat with remaining ingredients.
Yield: 4 cocktails, for 8, double the recipe.