OK, those Cuban sandwiches. First off, I should say that I used to go to Miami all the time; as an art shipper/handler I was there once or twice a winter, even before Basel got started. I’ve had three solo shows in two galleries (at three locations) in Miami, and generally know and like it well. And I think it’s finding its way as a culinary town; the tropical ingredients, great ethnic diversity and a huge influx of money are producing a real food scene. Last time I was there I ate wonderfully, thanks to my hosts (who read this: Hi B & T). They recently sent me mangoes from the tree next to the gallery.
The Cuban sandwich makes a lot of sense. Two kinds of pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, pressed until melty: what’s not to like? It’s a toasted ham and Swiss with pickles. I don’t eat too many of them when I’m there, though, because I try hard not to eat meat when I don’t know where it comes from. And Cuban bread is white and spongy and I must say I don’t find it very interesting. Pressing it on the grill helps, but I like bread with a bit more character. Solution? Local pastured pork, homemade rosemary rolls, extra sharp Vermont cheddar, and homemade red cabbage-carrot pickles.
The rolls are now a standard around here, made with my universal dough that seems to be able to become anything at all in the bread category. Other people like to spread out, trying and mastering all sorts of different recipes for every sort of roll/loaf/crust while I am content to just shape and bake my one dough according to the desired outcome. It’s because I’m a lazy coward, no doubt, but it sure is easy. They bake in 10 minutes flat with a sprinkle of minced rosemary and maldon salt on top, and come out chewy on the outside and soft and steamy inside. It’s very hard not to just eat them all right away with butter and call it a day.
So the roast pork from Christmas, a sliver or two of the ham from John, a thick slice of cheddar, good mustard, and a healthy dollop of the fuchsia pickled slaw got a good hot press in the iron pan with a saucepan lid on top for extra flattenizing. And oh, baby. I’ve already talked about just how into the grilled sandwiches I have been lately, using the ham and then the tongue pastrami, and the addition of this roast pork to the rotation was just what I needed. The tang of the cheddar, mustard, and pickles made unholy harmony with the smoky, semi-greasy meat. And the rye and other grains in the bread gave it all of the flavor and textural complexity it needed to function as an equal to the rich fillings.
Also, there was melted cheese. I did make a little salad to go on the side. And I had a glass of wine left from the night before. I’ve been remiss in my wine blogging, for which I hope to atone soon.
Traditionalists may scoff at my yuppie bastardization of this sandwich, but to them I say “Vaya comer mierda en otro lado.” (Which I learned from a Spam All-Stars CD years ago).