Thursday, June 14, 2007
If I could only get a Cuban sandwich...
Some days I kinda feel like Vincent Price in The Last (wo)Man On Earth, only my movie would be titled "The Last Cuban In Seattle". Once in a while a restaurant pops up here claiming to be Cuban or Caribbean and I pounce on it like a starving jaguar only to be disappointed. Usually over-priced, and just vaguely Caribbean-esque. I want an authentic media noche (Cuban midnight sandwich). Or some ropa vieja (shredded flank steak). Maybe even some arroz con pollo (chicken and yellow rice). If I had the funds to open a small Cuban restaurant in Seattle I would in a heartbeat. Okay, sure, I can make all of these dishes at home. But there is something amazing about going into a little restaurant that smells like cumin and garlic and getting a big side of black beans with white rice and some fried plantain chips with mojo. I always order three or four dishes and share with friends (or eat it all myself when I'm feeling selfish). If you ever have the opportunity to walk around Little Havana in Miami do yourself a favor. Get yourself a Cuban sandwich. It will be the best sandwich you've ever had (okay, so I guess it depends on where you get it. No back-alley cuban sandwiches for me). There are a few good places here in Seattle that have Caribbean inspired food that is actually very good. One of my favorites is Paseos in Fremont. The say they have a Cuban sandwich but it's not quite right. The first thing you must have is Cuban bread. If you can't find/make Cuban bread you have to use a soft crusted French Bread (it won't be the same but it's the next best thing). The next thing you need is a Cuban sandwich press. If you don't have one of those (which most people probably don't) use two cast iron skillets placing the sandwich in one pan and using the bottom of the other pan to flatten the sandwich. You can use a panini grill but it's not the same. You may think I'm nitpicking but trust me. Okay, I'll stop being the sandwich nazi and just give you my recipe for a delicious media noche. Enjoy.
Cuban Midnight Sandwich
1 loaf Cuban bread (or soft crusted French baguette)
1 lb roasted pork shoulder, sliced thin (I've used pork loin before and that worked pretty well)
1/2 lb black forest ham, sliced thin
1/2 lb swiss cheese, sliced
6 sour crisp dill pickles, sliced thinly long-ways
4 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Cut the bread into 4 even loaves (about 8-10" each). Slice each loaf all the way open. Spread mustard on the inside of the tops and bottoms of the bread. Place an even layer of pork on the bottom halves. Then an even layer of ham. Then an even layer of swiss cheese. Then a layer of pickles. Cover with the top halves of bread. Now that the sandwiches are made heat up a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Butter both sides of the sandwiches. Place the sandwiches in the pan and using the flat bottom of another pan press down on the tops of the sandwiches to flatten. Once the bottoms have browned a little, flip them over and once again press to flatten. Once the sandwich is lightly browned on both sides and the cheese is melted (about 3 to 4 minutes each side) remove from the heat and slice diagonally. Delicious.