[Photograph: Morgan Eisenberg]
In theory, Cuban sandwiches should be a party hit. Packed with both roast pork and ham, melted cheese, pickles, mustard, and toasty, buttery bread, they’re bound to please a crowd. But the reality is their lengthy prep time (including slowly roasting pork shoulder) and involved assembly and pressing routine keep them from being a realistic option for feeding many hungry mouths. Until now: This simplified version relies on a few shortcuts, including using quick-cooking pork tenderloin in place of traditional roast pork, and pressing all of the sandwiches between two big sheet pans, in order to make a big, shareable batch all at once.
Why It Works
- The mojo-marinated pork tenderloin takes less than an hour to roast, making it a quick and easy stand-in for traditional Cuban roast pork.
- Pressing the sandwiches between baking sheets lightly toasts them on the top and bottom and compresses the ingredients together so they hold up when sliced.
- 3 medium cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon (12g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 medium orange, juiced
- 2 limes, juiced
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- One 1 1/2- to 2-pound (680-900g) pork tenderloin
- 2 large loaves crusty bread, halved lengthwise
- 6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup (125g) yellow mustard, plus more for serving
- 1 pound (450g) thinly sliced ham
- 8 ounces (225g) sliced dill pickles
- 8 ounces (225g) sliced Swiss cheese
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic, salt, cumin, pepper, oregano, orange juice, lime juice, and olive oil, and process until garlic is fully minced. Transfer to a large, sealable container and add the pork tenderloin. Toss to coat, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 and up to 8 hours.
After the pork has marinated, preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of heavy duty foil. Top with the pork and pour over the marinade. Roast until the center of the thickest section of the pork reads 145°F (65°C) on an instant-read thermometer, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400°F (200°C).
While the pork rests, pour any excess juices into a small bowl and discard the foil. Clean and dry the baking sheet, if necessary. Spread the butter all over the exterior of the bread. Set the bottom bread halves on the baking sheet. Spread mustard thinly on the bottom halves, then top with the sliced ham.
Slice the pork tenderloin into thin, 1/4-inch thick slices. Layer the pork tenderloin over the ham and drizzle with the reserved cooking juices. Top with the pickles and Swiss cheese, then close the sandwiches.
Place a second sheet pan over the sandwiches and press down firmly. Place heavy, oven-safe objects, such as cast iron pots or pans, on top of the sheet pan to compress the sandwiches, then carefully transfer to the oven.
Bake until the cheese has melted and the ingredients have warmed through, about 20 minutes. Cut the sandwiches crosswise into individual portions and serve with additional mustard, if desired.
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