“Cuban” Sandwiches

Disclaimer: These are not authentic Cuban sandwiches. Beginning with the fact that I am in no way Cuban and ending with my lack of panini press, I do not claim these to be traditional. They are, however, yummy. Which is pretty much all that matters in my house.

Untitled design (1)

With two visitors arriving, I needed something delicious and easy that would serve a crowd (thinking: leftovers). Roasting a pork shoulder checks those boxes pretty much every time, but instead of doing regular old pulled pork, I decided to do sandwiches.

Most pork shoulders are enormous. Like, you’ll be eating roasted pork for the next five months enormous. Try to find a size that works for the group your feeding (pork usually freezes pretty well, too!). In my case, I searched for the smallest one I could find, around 6.5 pounds, and STILL had plenty of extra.

Roast Pork - Cubans.jpg

Rinse your shoulder off, pat that bad boy dry and then plunk it (fat side down) in the crock pot. You can roast the shoulder in the oven too… another recipe for another post 🙂  Make a few small cuts in the meat and insert slices of garlic. Rub it down with olive oil, and then a spice mixture of salt, pepper and oregano. Squeeze an orange over the shoulder, then cover and cook for 6 hours on low.

When the shoulder is done, it will be tender and browned throughout. Remove it from the crock pot and let it rest for 15 minutes or so before pulling or slicing it for layering on sandwiches.

Cubans - Sandwiches

While the pork is resting, lightly toast your rolls (or Cuban bread if you’re aiming for authenticity) and slather with mustard. Layer on ham, Swiss cheese, sliced red onion, roast pork, and top with (lots of ) pickles. (Going for authenticity, I’d press the sandwiches too, but the last time I tried that without the proper tools I made a massive, massive mess, so….) Dig in!!

Cuban-Inspired Sandwiches

Browned Butter Baked Potato Pizza

Thanksgiving week was gorgeous. Six perfect, sunny 65-ish degree days in a row. And then Monday came. Overcast, rainy, 25 degrees colder. Eww. Definitely called for some comfort food.

Last night, I put a few potatoes in the oven for baked potato soup, a family favorite. Then I went to the gym. Then I wanted pizza. Go figure.

How do you avoid wasting already baking potatoes when you no longer want soup and only care about how you can get your mitts around a piece of delicious pizza? Well. No rules about what you put on your pizza… drop the potatoes on there, call it a day.

Now, when you decide at 8 p.m. that you want to eat pizza for dinner, you can’t exactly make the greatest crust in the world. So instead of the greatest crust, I made the fastest – it doesn’t need to rise, so instead of being ready in 1.5 hours, it can be ready to top in about 20 minutes. Perfect!

Start with four medium sized potatoes – I used two mediums, two smalls and one large. If only potatoes came in standard sizes.

baking potatoes.jpg

Poke a few vents in each potato with a fork or a knife and stick them in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. You can wash them first, but since I planned to throw the skins away, I skipped that step. Oops.

While the potatoes are baking, go to the gym and change your mind about what you want to make for dinner.

Joke sign.

I’d let the potatoes bake for about 30 minutes before starting additional prep, but you do what you want. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven at least 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake the pizza.

Dough 2.jpg

To make the crust, dissolve the sugar in a cup of warm water and then sprinkle the yeast on top. Set it aside until the yeast is frothy, which should only take 5 minutes or so. While the yeast is frothing, mix the flour and the salt in a second bowl and the olive oil and dried herbs in a third. Mix the flour mixture into the water mixture until it forms a ragged dough, then mix the oil mixture in. The dough will be sticky (and oily) at this point.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for a few minutes, until it is no longer sticky.

Now for my least favorite part.

Pizza peels.jpg

If you are transferring your crust onto a pizza stone in the oven, you’ll need either a pizza peel or a cookie sheet. If you are not using a pizza stone, just stretch the dough and do the whole baking process on the cookie sheet.

I use a pizza peel and stone because I am apparently a masochist. I’m terrible at transferring the pizza from the peel onto the stone. Just awful. I keep telling myself that I need to practice, but it hasn’t helped yet.

Anyway. You’ll be better at it than I am! Trust me when I say it would be hard to be worse. I can’t even show you how badly I mangled my poor crust.

Dust the peel with corn meal and then stretch the dough. I’ve tried many ways to stretch pizza dough (yes, including attempting to toss it into the air… how many languages can I saw mistake in?). My current favorite method is just to start with a ball of dough and gently press from the center outwards until it is relatively even in thickness and resembles a shape. Any shape will do.

Now, pizza professionals everywhere will laugh, but I pre-bake the crust. As peel-challenged as I am, I just can’t handle the transfer of raw dough + toppings. So, at this point I slide the crust into the oven for about 5 minutes, just enough to let it stiffen up. I know, I know.

At this point, your potatoes should be just about ready. Pull them out of the oven and cut them in half so they can cool off a bit before you try to scoop out the insides.

While the potatoes cool, work on the rest of the toppings. For this recipe, I decided to keep it simple. What tastes good on a potato? Bacon, butter, sour cream and chives? Yes please. I did brown the butter first to make it that much more delicious.

Dice four strips of bacon and then saute the strips until they are browned and crispy.

DSC01475.JPG

Ummm, YUM! Set the bacon aside on a paper towel to drain.

Now, for the butter. To really brown butter, you have to pay attention to it. This is usually my downfall. Standing there and whisking it constantly seems pointless until, whoops, it’s burnt. Just whisk it. It doesn’t take that long.

Browned butter.jpg

Once you start seeing little brown flecks, add the minced garlic and whisk for another 30 seconds or so, then remove it from the heat.

Scoop the insides out of your potatoes and then mash them lightly (not too much, it’s not mashed potato pizza). Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and get ready to assemble your pizza.

Potatoes.jpg

Take your crust (pre-baked or not) and slather it with about half of the browned butter and garlic mixture. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the buttered crust, then add the potatoes and top with the remaining butter. Sprinkle on the bacon.

Pizza toppings.jpg

That’s Perry. That’s how Perry helps. (I actually used a 4-cheese blend. Sometimes you gotta go with what you have on hand.)

Bake the pizza for about 25-30 minutes until the crust lightly browned, then take it out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes.

Top with snipped chives and sour cream. Cut and enjoy!

Baked Potato Pizza.jpg

Browned Butter Baked Potato Pizza (2).jpg