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Columboricans & Cubans

July 7, 2008

As a Military Family it’s a daily practice to meet new people from all over the world.  I can definitely thank the Air Force for the diversification my life has seen since marrying The Husband.  One of my best friends is Puerto Rican, married to a Colombian.  They gave me a beautiful Columborican Godson and there is a Goddaughter on the way!  Both The Puerto Rican and The Colombian grew up in the Burroughs of New York and moved to Miami during adolescence.  This exposed them to a million different tastes and cooking styles.  The Colombian joined the Air Force and quickly became The Husband’s greatest friend.  Lucky me, I gained a Puerto Rican!  The Puerto Rican loved to cook, but her taste buds were very fussy.  The Colombian just liked to eat, and eat well.  In Miami, he grew up eating Cubans.  When The Colombian and I met, he realized how much I liked to cook and begged me to make Cuban sandwiches.  I refused claiming I’d never tasted an authentic cuban, so how could I ever begin to make one myself?  Sadly, The Colombian, Puerto Rican and Columborican moved back to Miami about six months before The Husband and I moved to Kansas.  The Columbian moans on the phone while eating Cubans (the sandwich!).

I was watching TV one day when The Husband rolled through and saw a beautiful sandwich covering the television.  Instant salivation.  The Husband asked if I could please, please, please make him these sandwiches.  We haven’t made it to Miami to see our friends yet, so I was a little intimidated especially when I saw all of the ingredients that I just don’t keep on hand.  I learned from The Puerto Rican the proper way to roast a pig (even though it’s a shoulder roast she can’t say pork, it’s against her nature). I wasn’t about to roast a pig to make sandwiches.  So I researched, which is what I always do with a recipe.

This brings me to confession time.  I will admit it.  I don’t have a clue why Rachael Ray is so passionately hated by so many people.  I think the girl can cook.  Sure, she’s got the 2-packs-a-day voice and a little too much enthusiasm for late night… but I adore her.  I just don’t want to watch her 24/7.  Anyway.  So I started to research these Cubans and found a recipe that looked really doable.  I’ve made them several times and (as you can see) switch up the bread/meat when I don’t have what’s needed.  They always taste delicious regardless of not knowing if they taste authentic or not.

This is the method I used with (notes) about what I changed.

Pressed Cuban Sandwiches
Rachael Ray

1/2 c mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lime
1 T ground cumin
2 lb ground pork (I used 1 lb)
2 1/2 t grill seasoning
6 oz thinly sliced deli ham
8 slices Swiss cheese
6 Challah rolls, split (I used whole wheat sourdough)
Dill pickles, sliced lengthwise

In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, lime juice and cumin.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine ground pork and grill seasoning.  Form into 6 patties (I used 1 lb ground pork and made 4 smaller burgers to fit my sliced sourdough).

Preheat a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Cook the burgers until cooked through on both sides. 

Line a cookie sheet with foil, place buns or bread on the foil, spread buns with mayonnaise mixture then a slice of cheese, top with burgers, ham, pickles and top off with the top bun.  Place a sheet of foil over the whole mess with another cookie sheet.  Find something heavy (I always use a 9″x13″ that I have no use for) fill it with water and place in the oven at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  The weight of the pan will do the trick and press the sandwich to a pancake (okay, maybe not that flat).  Before you remove the whole thing from the oven, pull your shelf out of the oven and do yourself a favor by taking the big water-filled something-or-other out of the oven before spilling water all over dinner.  Yes.  I’ve done this before.

I generally serve the sandwiches with sliced mango, but that’s hard to come by in winter months so we settle for some tortilla chips.

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