The Cuban

August  9, 2011
3 Ratings
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!! - AntoniaJames —AntoniaJames

Test Kitchen Notes

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. - sdebrango —sdebrango

  • 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)
  • 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)
In This Recipe
  1. The Cuban
  2. Heat panini press or other top and bottom grilling device for sandwiches.
  3. Slice the rolls lengthwise and spread one side with mustard and the other side with mayonnaise.
  4. Layer the ham, cheese, pork and pickles in whatever order you like. Press the two sides together.
  5. Cook in the panini press until the grill lines are dark brown and sandwich is nice and warm.
  6. Enjoy!! ;o)
  1. Cuban Adobo Pork, Braise Roasted
  2. Score the pork shoulder a few times about ¼ inch deep on each side.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Preheat the oven the 375 degrees.
  7. 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.
  8. Cook the roast for another hour, then turn the roast over. Add more stock or water if what you put in earlier has evaporated.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Let the roast sit for at least 20 minutes after removing it, before slicing.
  12. 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.
  13. Enjoy!! ;o)
  14. 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.
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Recipe by: AntoniaJames

When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in Boulder County, CO, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)