Seasonal Chef: Making a Farmer’s Market-inspired Cuban Sandwich

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It doesn’t take much arm twisting to get me to see a foodie movie. Case in point: the newest offering from Jon Favreau called Chef. It’s a sweet departure from his typical big budget movies. The film is filled with lush scenery, characters you care about and food, glorious food! My husband leaned over at one point and said, “This is definitely not a film you want to see hungry.” Favreau is totally likable and intense in the kitchen scenes, and if in fact those are his hands in the close-up, a pretty darn good chef. So where is this taking me? To the central dish of the movie: a Cuban sandwich. Walking out of the theatre I was inspired to make one of my own.

Cubano Sandwich

After some research and discussion, as I aways do before a post, I came to find that there is some leeway on the ingredients. Depending on where you come from, and when in time, this sandwich holds a few tweaks along the way. Generally speaking it’s has pork, ham, pickles and cheese. Then it’s cooked on a grill or panini press to melt the cheese and toast the bread.

processing a quick slaw

The first thing I decided to do was make a Savory Sweet Slaw. The typical condiment is mustard, but this past weekend I found cabbage and kale at the farmers market, and decided to change it up. If you have a food processor the prep work on this dish is cut down to mere minutes.

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I combined napa cabbage, Red Russian kale, apple and carrot. The kick comes from jalapeño and a little sweetness from Sohha honey. Let your slaw rest a bit to become soft, and head to the next component: pork.

Stacking the Cuban sandwich

You have two options with the Seasoned Pork recipe. I simply added it to the onion I was cooking and broke it up. You can also form it into meatballs and create this dish as a hero sandwich. It will work both ways beautifully. Since I have a panini press I went the grill route and started stacking. The main seasoning I used is called Zesty Italian. It’s a magnificent blend created by Spice Revolution. You can find her at many farmers markets in Westchester. (Check the link for locations.)

My other twist to this sandwich was using raclette cheese. Raclette is a wonderful Swiss cheese that is primarily used to melt over meats and vegetables. It worked like a dream in this sandwich. Sharp, nutty and very oozy. I placed it over the pork to help keep it all together. Its worth the trip to Whole Foods, or your local cheese shop, to get it for this recipe.

You also want to find a really good sour pickle. I picked up a fantastic 3-6 month brined pickle from Doc Pickle and sliced it super thin. The typical pickle you find in this sandwich is dill. The slightly sour, pucker-worthy one I used, really made a difference. It sounds like a lot of flavors going on, but they really come together.

Farmer's Market Cuban Sandwich

If you are traveling around tomorrow or Saturday you have a chance to taste my creation first hand, made by me! Tomorrow, Thursday June 12, I will be at the Phelps Hospital Farmers Market in Sleepy Hollow, from Noon to 2:00. Then on Saturday June 14 I’ll be at the John Jay Homestead Farm Market in Katonah, from 11:00-1:00.

If you enjoy feel-good-foodie movies definitely check out Favreau’s Chef. Just make sure you have all the ingredients on hand to make my Farmers Market Cuban Sandwich. I guarantee you will be inspired to eat one after seeing the movie.

Buon Appetito!

Seasonal Chef one year ago: Grilled Romaine.
Seasonal Chef two years ago: Purslane.

Farmer’s Market Cuban Sandwich

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: Serves 6-8

This delicious sandwich can be converted to a hero if you don't have a panini press. Simply follow the directions for making the pork into meatballs. Build the sandwich in a grinder roll and broil it to melt the cheese.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Slice the bread loaf about 1/3 from the top. Brush the bottom with some melted butter and set on your cutting board. Dig a well out of the bread by about an inch and add and a layer of seasoned pork.
  2. Top with thin slices of raclette cheese, thin slices of pickle and top with the slaw, some fresh cilantro and scallion. Replace the top half of the bread and brush it with butter.
  3. Place on a pre-heated Panini griddle and grill until the bread is hot and crisp and the cheese is melted. About 5 minutes
  4. Remove and cool for 2-3 minutes and slice up.
http://food.lohudblogs.com/2014/06/11/cuban-sandwich/

Sweet and Savory Slaw

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Napa cabbage, trimmed and core removed
  • 1 bunch Red Russian kale, tough stems removed
  • 2 medium carrots, cleaned and peeled
  • 1 large Fuji apple, cored
  • ½ -1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed and finely diced
  • 2 large juicy limes, 1 zested and 2 juiced, about 1/4 cup
  • Good organic honey; I used *Sohha Honey*
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Using the slicing blade for your food processor shred the cabbage and kale and place in a large bowl. You will have about 8 loosely packed cups of cabbage and 4 cups of kale. It will initially look like a lot, but will wilt quickly once you add the seasoning.
  2. Change the attachment to the shredder and shred the carrot and apple. Add to the bowl along with the jalapeno.
  3. Add the lime zest, juice, 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon of honey to the bowl. Using your hands massage the seasoning throughout as you mix it all well. (If you have rubber prep gloves they will make this step easier.)
  4. Set the bowl aside for at least 30 minutes. The longer it rests the softer the slaw will get and the flavors will marry.
  5. Before using toss it again with your hands or a large slotted spoon and adjust for seasoning. Store in a covered glass or plastic container in the 'fridge.

Notes

"Cook time" is inactive. Let your mixed slaw rest for 30 minutes to overnight. The longer it rests, the better the flavor it becomes.

http://food.lohudblogs.com/2014/06/11/cuban-sandwich/

Seasoned Pork

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup onion, ¼” diced, about 1 small
  • ½ jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed and finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1.25 lb. organic ground pork; I used *Gaia’s Breath Farm* ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons Zesty Italian Blend; from *Spice Revolution*

Instructions

  1. Over medium high heat saute the onion, jalapeno and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until golden brown. About 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the pork and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until all the pink disappears. Stir in the Zesty Italian and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed.
  3. Alternatively you can let the onion mix cool a little and combine with the pork to make small meatballs. Simply place on a foil lined sheet and broil, or fry in a saute pan.
  4. Set aside until you are ready to compose your sandwich.
http://food.lohudblogs.com/2014/06/11/cuban-sandwich/

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About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer's markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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