Just Sous Just Me

Musicians, inspired recipes, songs and food adventures.

Cuban Jazz Adventures, Mojo and the Cubano

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Disclaimer: The following blog does not contain anything related to the way Cavemen eat, is not Gluten-Free, Non-Dairy Vegetarian or Vegan. It’s not for the food-intolerants. The citrus pictured is here because is included in the Slow Roast Pork Shoulder Mojo Marinade and Mojito.

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Part 1:

I have always believed in music and food as the ultimate companions especially when both of them are of exceptional quality and experienced simultaneously. We really can’t expect anything less in todays hipster environment of the unending and continually evolving dining boom cutting us off at every pass.  If you are a constant travelling musician like me, food and coffee apps are invaluable and can point you in the right direction when you find yourself in a foreign land, if you haven’t had the time or inclination to do the research before you get there. Who does that anyhow? I do if I have the time but apps like Zomato, TripAdvisor and of course Bean Hunter have been saviours with an average of ninety-five percent success rate or win factor of approval and satisfaction.  Yes, some time is required scrolling your phone but in the pursuit of excellence and value for money, this is necessary. There was only one double espresso that was undrinkable, and three of outstanding quality after circumnavigating the country three times this year and consumption of around sixty-three of them.  Top 3 where Alice Springs, Toowoomba and Nowra. Regional areas, who’d have thought and quite serendipitous. Call me a coffee snob and I do realise a bad coffee purchase is a first world problem. But If I’m going to hand over four plus dollars for that miniature cup of single origin goodness with notes of caramel, chocolate and floral overtones that will put a smile on my face, I expect it to be palatable and delicous.

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And the travelling and food pursuit continues while I am fortunate enough to perform around the country and various destinations of the world for the duration of 2015. Two significant factors have occurred recently while I have been home for a spell, unpacking and reacquainting with the ragdoll who is yet to forgive my absence and rightly so. Firstly, a friend told me over dinner the other night in Croydon that I must watch the movie Chef, which I did the very next day. While watching this truly inspiring foodie movie, which also includes a mighty soundtrack of food and specific music pairing, I was also keeping an eye on a crowd funding campaign being run for my band Feel The Manouche to attend the Havana International Jazz Festival in Cuba, which was creeping towards the finish line of being fully funded. As of writing, this project has now been funded and we are going to Cuba in December. Bring on the Cigars and Mojitos I say.

Mint in my frontyard, essential ingredient in the Mojo and Mojito

Mint in my front yard, essential ingredient in the Mojo and Mojito

You will have to watch Chef to understand where I am going with this. If you have seen it you will most likely comprehend my obsession and possibly have developed your own for the Cubano.  The Cubano is the official name for the Cuban Sandwich, which originated in Florida early last century, introduced by the Cuban cigar builders who migrated to Miami. In Cuba, where it’s origins date back to the 1500’s, it is simply known as ‘Sandwich’.  The history of the Cubano, evolution and how it came to be a universally known is fascinating and can be read in more detail here or you could just get on with trying to get the pork shoulder slow roast part right which is what I believe must be the secret to the success of a party in your mouth, sensational Cubano.

The mustard, swiss cheese and dill pickle slices are layered on top of the mojo pork with smoked ham slices. These are all contained on what is referred to as Cuban bread (a french-style baguette will suffice) then smothered with softened butter and placed in the Plancha (sandwich press) and cooked till the cheese has melted and the bread has turned a beautiful caramelised golden colour. This is then cut on a diagonal bias, so they are in triangular shapes. For Cubano authenticity they must be in triangular form. Makes sense, easier to eat as there’s a lot of information on that sandwich. And easier to digest with Buena Vista Social Club soundtrack on while consuming.

I don’t own a Plancha (yet) or a sandwich press, but you can use a cast iron grill pan and place a brick wrapped in foil on the top of the sandwich to press down instead. I’ve got the pork shoulder marinating now overnight in a combination of spices, adapted and reformed from a few of the many recipes I found on-line for the traditional Cuban Mojo marinade. Most importantly, am using the garlic from our friends Organic Garlic farm in Kempsey of which have an enormous amount, and can’t think of a better way to use it, seeing as the marinade requires at least ten cloves. Some recipes suggest using twenty. Best not cook this up if you are flying anywhere the next day or two after.

Organic Australia Garlic From Kempsey

Organic Australia Garlic From Kempsey

Part 2:

So the shoulder has been marinated now for twenty-four hours. Cuban roast experts suggest forty-eight, but am keen to get this roast going today being overcast and semi-cold in Sydney, hanging onto Winter being of cryophilic persuasion. I’ve not roasted a pork before, it’s always lamb so want to get this right. In Chef, they roast the shoulder inside a kettle drum on hot coals. Not being near a Bunnings to obtain these appliances, into the oven it goes.  The Cubans also don’t cover the meat with foil, but let it get all browned up at a very high temperature 250C, then drop it down to 190C. So far the scored fat on the top has browned and crisped up a bit (a good sign) at the high temperature, so have lowered the heat now and covered loosely with foil just for good measure. The last thing we need is dried out meat, we want the juice factor on completion. Fingers crossed.

Have to say am fairly happy with the way it looks, but it’s really only about the taste, so it’s now having a good rest before I start carving it up and we’ll find out then if this roast has any Mojo. Mercifully, it does.

Now all that is left is to assemble the Cubano then grill. Have sliced the pickles, melted the Pepe Saya Butter, sliced the pork, cut open the bread rolls (which aren’t Cuban, but the closest softest ones could find) and finally covered the brick with foil, and of course made a Mojito to go with it.

Yes, that is a house brick wrapped in foil with a Mojito in the foreground

Yes, that is a house brick wrapped in foil with a Mojito in the foreground


Cubano filler - Swiss Cheese, triple-smoked ham and dill pickles

Cubano filler – Swiss Cheese, triple-smoked ham and dill pickles

Getting the Mojo Pork right is the first important step in the Cubano process, the next step is the assembly which is also vital, and don’t be too shy with the filling amount as it’s all going to get squashed down with the foil brick so the flavours all meld together in a nice little flat crunchy toastie.

Start with a good smearing of mustard on each side of the open bread roll, then a layer of cheese followed by the Pork, Ham, Pickles, then a final layer of Cheese. Liberally spread the melted butter on both outsides of the roll and it’s now ready for the grilling stage.

Pre-grilled Cubano

Pre-grilled Cubano

Next I heated up the grill pan, tossed in some more butter till it was sizzling but not burning, placed the sandwich in and put the brick on top. After a few minutes I removed the brick and checked the underside so as it wasn’t burning, then flipped it over and put the brick back on again. The cast-iron Chasseur grill pan can get extremely hot over the gas flame, so it was only a few minutes needed so as the outside was nicely browned and the cheese was melted…

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It’s taken two days to make this sandwich but the end result has been worth it, and pretty much looks like what it should as far as Google Imaged Cubanos go. Must say though, am looking forward to tasting the real deal when we are in Cuba later this year. In the mean time, Es hora de celebrar. El exito Cubano, trae en la Mojitos!


CUBAN ROAST PORK

Mojo Marinade

Ingredients:

1 Pork Shoulder (I used a 1.2Kilo)*

20 Cloves Garlic (Or ten giant Kempsey organic garlic ones)

2 Tsp Sea Salt

1 Tsp Black Peppercorns

1/2 Cup fresh squeezed Orange Juice

1 Tsp Orange Zest

1/2 Cup fresh squeezed Lime and Lemon Juice

1 Cup Onion, minced

2 Tsp Oregano (fresh if you’ve got it, otherwise dried is fine)

Handful Coriander leaves, chopped

Handful Mint leaves, chopped

2 Tsp Cummin

1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Method

  1. In a food processor, place garlic, onion, black peppercorns and salt. Whizz till a well combined paste
  2. Place garlic mixture in a bowl with all juices, zest, oregano, coriander, mint, cummin and mix together
  3. Heat Olive Oil in a saucepan over medium heat till is hot but not bubbling
  4. Remove from heat, add the garlic mix to the oil and whisk till well combined. Let cool
  5. Make slits around the Pork and score the fat layer with a very sharp knife (Stanley Knife works best) crisscrossed or however you can safely manage this process (Learned later the butcher will do this for you if you ask nicely, good idea for musos who’d like to retain their fingers)
  6. Roll your sleeves up and massage the marinade all over the Pork, basically smother it to bits
  7. Place in a plastic heavy-duty zip-lock bag, with the left-over orange and lime peels, air out and sealed. Refrigerate for a day or two

Oven

  1. Remove Pork from fridge, place in roasting tin and let come to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 250C
  3. Place roast in oven and cook at this temp till the top is starting to go brown and crackly (the time for this depends on oven types and size of roast – just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn)
  4. Turn oven down to 190C and baste every half hour with pan juices.
  5. Use a meat thermometer to check internal temperature – Ideally it should be at 170C for the trad Cuban sliceable texture. Mine was in the oven for about two hours. (There are variables with cooking times, left in for longer than this it will become pulled pork if the internal  temperature gets to 190C – either way it’s going to taste good)
  6. Remove from oven, cover with foil and rest, rest, rest!

CUBANO

Soft long bread rolls (Subway style 6-inch length)

Dijon Mustard (traditionally American Yellow Mustard is used)

Swiss Cheese slices

Smoked ham, thin slices

Dill Pickles, sliced thinly

Mojo Pork, sliced

Butter, melted

Method

  1. Cut bread rolls lengthways
  2. Spread mustard on each opened side
  3. Layer cheese, Ham, Pork, Pickles and finish with more cheese
  4. Heat grill pan (or sandwich press) and melt butter till sizzling
  5. Put sandwich in pan and place foil brick on top, grill a few minutes check not burning
  6. Turn sandwich over and place brick back on top, grill a few more minutes till browned and cheese has melted
  7. Make Mojito
  8. Cut sandwich in two long triangular shapes and serve

MOJITO

1/2 Lime, juiced

2 Tsp raw sugar

10 mint leaves

1 Cup crushed ice

1 decent nip of white  rum (Havana Club or Bundaberg White)

Soda water

Lime wedge

Method

  1. Place lime juice and sugar in a tall glass and stir till sugar is dissolved
  2. Add mint leaves and gently muddle to release oils but leaves aren’t crushed
  3. Add crushed ice, Rum and dash of soda and stir till combined
  4. Serve with a garnish of mint and lime
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Author: Just Sous Just Me

Clare O'Meara is a professional musician travelling and collecting recipes and food stories from other musicians.

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