A good Cuban sandwich is like a ham-and-cheese on steroids. This one is packed with ham, salami, home-roasted pork loin, two kinds of cheese and a pickle-mustard relish. To prepare, you begin with the pork loin, and you'll end with it, too; there should be some left over for other uses.
Good Cuban bread can be difficult to find. An Italian or French sandwich roll can stand in; just make sure the bread you use is soft. A crusty baguette, for example, would be too hard and crunchy for this use.
The recipe calls for granulated garlic, which is coarser than garlic powder. If you want to use powder instead, cut the amount in half; it's about twice as strong as the granules.
Make Ahead: The pork loin needs to be refrigerated in its rub for 24 hours and then in the marinade for 24 hours. The pork can be roasted and refrigerated a day in advance.
- For the pork
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons granulated garlic (may substitute 1 tablespoon garlic powder; see headnote)
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, or more to taste
- 2 pounds boneless pork loin
- 2 cups orange juice
- 2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 16 limes; may use bottled organic lime juice, such as Santa Cruz Organic Pure Lime Juice)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- For the relish
- 8 ounces whole dill pickles, such as Mt. Olive Kosher Dill Petite Snack Crunchers
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- For assembly
- 2 loaves Cuban bread, cut in half horizontally (may substitute a soft Italian or French roll)
- 12 ounces thinly sliced country-style ham
- 6 ounces thinly sliced Genoa salami
- 6 ounces thinly sliced Swiss cheese
- 6 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
- 12 ounces thinly sliced boneless pork loin (see above)
- 6 ounces pickle and yellow mustard relish (see above)
For the pork: Combine the cumin, oregano, granulated garlic, onion powder, paprika and salt in a medium bowl. Rub the mixture all over the pork loin, then place the loin in a food-safe resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Combine the orange and lime juices, bay leaf and garlic in a medium bowl. Add to the bag with the pork. Seal tightly and return to the refrigerator for 24 hours, turning over the bag once about halfway through.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place a roasting rack on a rimmed baking sheet. (For easy cleanup, first line the sheet with aluminum foil.)
Remove the pork loin from the marinade (discarding the marinade) and pat dry with paper towels. Place it on the roasting rack and roast until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees, about 50 minutes. Cool.
Use a sharp knife to cut 12 ounces of the cooled loin crosswise into thin slices.
Meanwhile, make the relish: Cut the pickles in half lengthwise. Either place in a food processor and pulse several times to form small chunks, or put through a grinder using a medium die. Place in a strainer to drain off excess juice, then transfer to a medium bowl. Add the mustard and stir to combine.
For assembly: On the bottom half of each bread loaf, layer equal amounts of the ham, then the salami, the cheeses and finally the pork. Spread a generous amount of the relish on the cut side of the top halves of the loaves.
Heat a panini press according to the manufacturer's directions. Alternatively, heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat and wrap aluminum foil around the bottom of a filled tea kettle (for pressing the sandwiches); a bacon press also may be used.
Place the sandwiches on the heated panini press and close. If using a skillet, place the sandwiches in the heated skillet and weight them down with the covered teakettle or bacon press. Cook (flipping the sandwiches once if you are using a skillet) until the bread is toasted and the cheese has melted, 4 to 6 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
From Guillermo Pernot, chef-partner of Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar in Penn Quarter.
Tested by Edward Lichorat.
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