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Melted Perfection: the Cuban Sandwich

Ah. The power of television.

If I hadn’t been watching it, I would not have been up way too late last night, and I wouldn’t have been hooked into watching an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

Normally, I would have had the power to resist, but before I could turn the clicker off, he mentioned Cuban sandwiches. I knew right then that I could not go to bed. Not until I knew.

Not until I knew how to make the perfect, melted bliss that is a great Cuban sandwich.

Now, on the show, the owner of the restaurant Azucar, made his Cuban sandwiches with a fresh ham. It was huge, and he bought it from his butcher. Since I did not have the time, a big family, or a butcher, I just used a small pork tenderloin.

Cuban Sandwiches

1 loaf soft French bread, or four soft hoagie rolls
mayonnaise
Cuban Style Roast Pork, thinly sliced (recipe follows)
8 very thin slices Virginia Ham
8 thin slices Swiss cheese
2 kosher dill pickles, very thinly sliced longways (I like the kind from the refrigerated section of the supermarket)
butter, for brushing on the outside of the bread

1. Preheat a panini press or a sandwich press (or just warm up two cast iron skillets on the stove). Slice bread in half longways, and then cut into 4 equal sections to make the sandwiches.

2. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the inside of the bread. Divide the sliced pork evenly among the sandwiches, then layer with ham, cheese, and pickles. Brush a very small amount of butter on the outside of each sandwich. Toast sandwiches in the press (or place in one cast iron skillet, and place another skillet on top of the sandwich). Remove when the cheese is melted and the meat is warmed through. Slice on the diagonal, and serve.

Cuban Style Roast Pork

1 pork tenderloin
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 orange
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Marinate pork in juices and garlic clove for at least 30 minutes in a glass baking dish.

2. Preheat oven to 375. Rub top of the tenderloin with kosher salt. Bake in the baking dish with the juices for 30-35 minutes, or until completely cooked. Remove from oven and let rest for 20 minutes. Remove any salt that did not get fully absorbed into the meat.

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