Cubano-Italiano Sandwich

A few weeks back, I was seriously craving a Cuban sandwich, but I was at an Italian sandwich shop that didn't have a few of the necessary ingredients. After checking out all the options, I had them make me a panini with chicken, prosciutto, provolone, pickles, and dijon mustard. It was at that moment when I knew things would never be the same. Seriously though, that sandwich wasn't mind blowing or anything, but what it did do was plant the seed in my brain for the true Cubano-Italiano. I spent weeks planning for and making all the ingredients for this one epic sandwich, and it was totally worth it! Let me break it down for you. For the roast pork, I brined it in an Italian marinade instead of the Cuban mojo. Instead of ham, prosciutto. Swap out swiss for provolone. Trade yellow mustard for a sweet and tangy homemade balsamic dijon, and finally for the pickle flavor, use a quick giardiniera of pickled cauliflower, peppers, and carrots. Oh yea, and instead of Cuban bread, ciabatta. You may notice that a lot of those swap-outs are upgrades!
Black and yellow mustard seeds. That's stuntin! (yes I already made a black and yellow mustard seed/Wiz Khalifa joke in a previous post, but it's fun so leave me alone.) After adding the rest of the mustard ingredients (like brown sugar, balsamic, and paprika) and letting it sit overnight, it looked like this. I brined the pork overnight and poured out some of the brine into the baking sheet so it would have a wet cooking environment. I have access to a meat slicer, so I rocked it. If you dont, not a big deal the sandwich will be just as delicious with thicker slices. Poured some vinegar on these to make a giardiniera. I bought a fresh ciabatta from a local bakery. Vibrant and fresh veggies with a vinegary kick. Ready for the grill. This is sandwich perfection. When you take a bite, there is a strange feeling of familiar, yet new. You have had these elements in a sandwich before. The crunch of the bread contrasting the creaminess of the cheese, the bright vinegar complimenting the savory pork and salty ham. All the elements of a Cuban sandwich, wrapped up in an Italian package.  
I wrote out exact recipes for a few components, but don't worry about following them too closely, the precise amounts aren't important. Just taste a lot and have fun with it! If you don't want to go all the way with it like I did, at least try and make a Cubano-Italiano at home with some store bought ingredients! Try it with turkey instead of pork, and grab a nice giardiniera from the grocery store.

Cubano-Italiano Sandwich

  • pork brine
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1/2 cup Salt
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire
  • 1/4 cup Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 cup Red Pepper Flakes
  • 5 cloves Garlic chopped
  • 2 shallots chopped
  • Balsamic Mustard
  • 1/4 cup Yellow Mustard Seed
  • 1/4 cup Black Mustard Seed
  • 1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt plus more as needed to taste
  • 1/4 cup Water

Instructions

  1. Brine- Mix all ingredients and stir till salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour into a plastic bag with a pork loin and refrigerate overnight. remove from brine and bake at 325 until internal reaches 155.
  2. Mustard - Grind the mustard seeds until broken but not fully turned into powder. Mix all ingredients. Stir, taste, refrigerate overnight and taste again adjusting as needed.
  3. Giardiniera - *amounts not listed* Chop equal parts cauliflower, red pepper, and carrot. Salt heavily and cover with water. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, strain and rinse the veggies. Put into a jar and cover with vinegar. Toss in some oregano and garlic and refrigerate for 2 days before using.