The Cuban

By • August 9, 2011 • 34 Comments



Author Notes: A few weeks ago, I stumbled on a unique version of adobo in one of Jerry Traunfeld's wonderful books on cooking with herbs. He adds sage, of all things. I'm not a big fan of sage, but decided to give it a try. My sage plant has been growing profusely these past few months, and using it an adobo intrigued me, so I figured, "Why not?" I'm glad I did, as this is a truly delicious adobo. Traunfeld calls it "Cuban adobo," so when I rubbed it all over a pork shoulder that I then braised, I decided to use it for one of my favorite sandwiches, the "Cuban." I provide a recipe below for a braise-roasted pork shoulder, which is based loosely on the method Alice Waters uses, as described in her marvelous, "The Art of Simple Food." Traunfeld does not provide any ratios in his adobo ingredient list, so I went heavy on the herbs relative to the cumin, which can overwhelm if not used judiciously. If you like a stronger cumin flavor in your adobo, feel free to adjust to taste. Frankly, you can use any other good pork roast on this, but the herb-laced adobo here works particularly well. Cuban sandwiches, a local favorite in Tampa, are always available at the Florida state fair when it's in town. I daresay that none there, however, are quite like this one. Enjoy!! - AntoniaJamesAntoniaJames

Food52 Review: AntoniaJames is a master at balancing flavors -- The Cuban is another example of her innate sense for how to blend spices and herbs. Her recipes are well written and so easy to follow. The pork shoulder is fall-off-the-bone tender and perfectly spiced. When I put it all together on a roll (I made her recipe for cuban rolls) with the ham, swiss, pickles, mustard and mayo, smeared it with butter and grilled, the sandwich was a marriage made in heaven. This is the best Cuban sandwich I have ever had. I recommend that you drop everything and make this sandwich: it's just that good. - sdebrangosdebrango

Makes 4 good-sized sandwiches

The Cuban

  • 4 good Cuban sandwich rolls (I posted a separate recipe for these here on food52.)
  • 1 pound roasted and sliced Cuban Adobo Roasted Pork Shoulder (recipe is below)
  • 4 - 6 generous slices good Swiss cheese
  • 4 - 6 ounces finely sliced Black Forest or similar deli ham
  • Mayonnaise to taste
  • Four half-sour pickles, thinly sliced
  • Hearty brown mustard (I like a coarse mustard with horseradish)
  1. Heat panini press or other top and bottom grilling device for sandwiches.
  2. Slice the rolls lengthwise and spread one side with mustard and the other side with mayonnaise.
  3. Layer the ham, cheese, pork and pickles in whatever order you like. Press the two sides together.
  4. Cook in the panini press until the grill lines are dark brown and sandwich is nice and warm.
  5. Enjoy!! ;o)

Cuban Adobo Pork, Braise Roasted

  • 1 3-pound pork shoulder
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I like Malabar) or white pepper
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 – 2 cups of chicken stock, heated
  • 3 or 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks (strictly optional, but nice to serve with the sauce)
  1. Score the pork shoulder a few times about ¼ inch deep on each side.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic with the salt to make a paste. Add the cumin and sage leaves and pound a fe times to mix it into the garlic and salt. Add the pepper and the olive oil and stir to combine.
  3. Rub the herb paste all over the pork should and into the crevices. Some people like to tie their pork shoulders up, but I generally don’t, as I find you get more crispy bits that way. You certainly may, if you wish.
  4. Put the roast in a bowl you can cover or a lidded glass storage container and refrigerate for at least six hours or, preferably, overnight. Bring the meat to room temperature for about an hour before roasting.
  5. Preheat the oven the 375 degrees.
  6. Put the onion slices in a braising pan or Dutch oven. Put the meat in on top of that. Cook for about 20 minutes, then add the stock. It should come up about ¼ of the way up the meat. If it doesn’t, add a bit of water.
  7. Cook the roast for another hour, then turn the roast over. Add more stock or water if what you put in earlier has evaporated.
  8. Cook for another half hour, then turn the roast over again and add more liquid if necessary. The onions will have released quite a bit, but depending on how much space there is on the bottom of the pan, it’s not uncommon for the pan to dry out. Add the carrots now, if using.
  9. Return the roast for yet another half hour, then check the meat with a fork. It should be very tender and should pull apart easily. At this point, I usually flip the roast over again and cook it for at least another 15 – 20 minutes. The USDA says the internal temperature should be 160 degrees. Some respected cooks take the roast out at 145. It’s up to you.
  10. Let the roast sit for at least 20 minutes after removing it, before slicing.
  11. The onions can be pureed with the pan juices, and more stock if you like, using an immersion or other blender, to make a nice sauce for the roast.
  12. Enjoy!! ;o)
  13. N.B. The photo showing a flatter sandwich with melted cheese was made with an earlier version of the Cuban sandwich roll I recently developed. I improved the shaping technique, using Mrs. Child's method for folding baguette dough into thirds. The other photo shows the improved roll, but shows pierino's Porchetta -- which worked really well in this Cuban --and not the adobo pork shoulder included here.
Jump to Comments (34)

Tags: adobo, braised pork, Cuban adobo, pork sandwich

Comments (34) Questions (0)

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almost 3 years ago Abra Bennett

I made this on Saturday, the whole shebang including the rolls, and my husband proclaims that his eternally unsatisfactory quest for the Cuban sandwich of his memory has finally come to an end. Thank you for this recipe!

I have a couple of tips - for the bread dough, use your stand mixer with the dough hook, it works perfectly, makes no mess, and you don't even need the extra flour. Also, if you don't have a sandwich press (as I don't) you can use a cast iron grill pan and weight the sandwich with a slightly smaller cast iron pan, pressing down firmly on the top pan. Works impeccably well.

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

sdebrango, thank you so much for the wonderful EP review. I'm so happy that you liked this! I'm queuing up another Cuban adobo pork shoulder this weekend, with another batch of rolls, for my younger son to enjoy before he heads back to college next week. ;o)

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I really was my pleasure testing this recipe, it was so delicious my family loved it. I normally have to worry about leftovers and with this one the bone was picked clean!! Thank you for creating such a wonderful recipe.

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almost 3 years ago gingerroot

Late to this party, but these are no less amazing sounding or looking. Let me know when I should pack my bags...

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

gingerroot, you're welcome any time! ;o)

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almost 3 years ago wssmom

Loved the recipe for the rolls, and am loving this!

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks so much, wssmom! You are so kind. ;o)

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almost 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

This sounds truly amazing, AJ! By the way, I love both of those cookbooks!

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, mrslarkin. I learned of Traunfeld from a recent foodpickle post or perhaps in head note here. Both his books are inspired and interesting, not to mention drop-dead gorgeous. And "The Art of Simple Food" has become my go-to book for how to do it right. Chez Panisse enjoys the acclaim it does for good reason. ;o)

Lorigoldsby

almost 3 years ago lorigoldsby

AJ--can't wait to try this!

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Oh, I hope you do! Thanks so much. ;o)

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almost 3 years ago Sagegreen

I want to go to your fair! Love your use of sage, along with everything else!

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks so much, SG! Yes, the sage is magical, simply magical in this recipe. Who would ever have thought to use it this way?! I don't know if Traunfeld thought it up, but whoever did is brilliant. ;o)

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almost 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Those rolls look like they turned out wonderfully!! And the pork recipe sounds intriguing and delicious. I find I don't love sage most of the time either, but this looks like a good application!

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks so much, F&S. You know, I'm not actually that crazy about either sage or adobo (though I'll be doing a lot more experimenting with fresh sage now), but I really like the two of them together, when cooked with pork. Isn't that interesting?! ;o)

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almost 3 years ago lapadia

This is absolutely an eye catcher, I can even smell the aroma through my monitor, oh and lovely buns, AJ!!

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, lapadia. You're so kind. ;o)

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almost 3 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I'm comin' over. What time do you want me? :-)

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almost 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Not without me you're not!

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

You all are so funny! You're welcome, any time. Leftover pork roast is going onto soft "tacos" made with fresh-off-the-griddle roti tonight, along with a luscious avocado and dead ripe tomatoes. This may be the night that my son and I make a galette with the first-of-the-season Ginger Golds I bought at the farmers' market. This would be a great evening for you to join us! ;o)

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I'm fully on board for a road trip to AJ's! Especially if she'll take us hiking or running in the redwoods.

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almost 3 years ago lapadia

Oh wait a minute, can you hear me shouting down from up North...Cuban Sandwiches, Tacos, luscious avocado??....dead ripe tomatoes...

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almost 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Don't leave without meeeeee!

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

lapadia, you're welcome to join us, too! Mountain biking is an option in the same park, by the way. I'm out there before dinner, 5 or 6 days a week, nearly year-round, and deeply grateful for it. I've gotten pretty good to, at planning/executing my dinner prep, to fit in 1 1/4 hours out of the house during the 1 3/4 hours before our evening meal. ;o)

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almost 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This is luscious beyond belief. And your rolls, perfection. We'll rent a limo at the airport and arrive en masse. Bringing the mountain bike.

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Oh, please, please do!! ;o)

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Wow!!! wonderful. I can't wait to try this. Cubans are one of my very favorite sandwiches.

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

So glad! We're crazy about Cubans, too. Especially these. My younger son breaks with strict convention and throws on whatever slaw we have on hand, as well. He likes the crunch and the mild vinegar flavor with just about any sandwich. ;o)

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I think that slaw and pork go together so beautifully, I would be tempted to do the same, I am a bit of a cuban sandwich purist and love to have them the way they were intended to be eaten, at least the first one. LOL

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Yes, I'm a purist too, at least in this regard. The brilliance of the Cuban lies in its relative simplicity. ;o)

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almost 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Yu-um!

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, boulangere!

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

This is positively mouth-watering!

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Glad you think so, HLA! ;o)