Cuban Sandwich Casserole

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Happy March!!!


Spring is on its way!!! At least we all hope so!!


In the meanwhile, we need warm comfort foods to keep us warm. And this recipe fits the bill.
Now, I have to admit, as much as I love food and to cook and create, there are foods that I had never been exposed to, the Cuban sandwich being one of them. I know, I know… how can that be? I must have had plenty of opportunities or maybe no one I know had ever raved about a sandwich so great that I just had to have one. I became interested in the Cubano after watching the 2014 film Chef, the story of a chef who loses his job and starts up a food truck, reconnecting with his past and bringing him closer to his family. It’s a great movie, funny and heartwarming and the only thing that would have made it better would have been if there was a way to capture the aromas of all that this talented chef created.


It left me with a desire to try a Cuban sandwich. Oh, but where to get one! I had no idea where to find an authentic Cubano outside of Havana or Miami and certainly not in the Lehigh Valley. Now I am sure that they are out there, if you know of one … please share.

I left the theater vowing to have a Cuban sandwich within the week. I did, making it myself!
And now I know why in the film people followed that truck and stood on line for what appeared to be hours. Cuban sandwiches are amazing. Making them is like an art project to me. There are steps, marinating the pork, layering the ingredients, pressing it in the grill. It’s like a masterpiece!!

So recently I bought a whole pork loin and while trimming it into a roast and some chops I had some trimming s and small pieces that I cubed. I thought to myself, “Self, what am I going to do with these cubes? A stew with some sweet potatoes, a stir fry?” Then it came to me about how I should make
Cuban sandwiches but how can I do that with cubes? And that was how the Cuban Sandwich Casserole was born. All the goodness of a Cuban sandwich in one baking pan!

It too has steps… toasting the bread, marinating and cooking the pork, making the sauce, layering the ingredients. But it results in a masterpiece that tastes just like an authentic Cuban sandwich.
I like to serve it with a shaved brussel sprout slaw dressed with citrus vinaigrette. It makes a nice addition.

So I hope you give it a try, it will make you want to Tango!

Or whatever you want to dance to keep warm!

Think spring, think spring, think spring…..

 -- Diana

 

Cuban sandwich Casserole

photo_1.JPGBread Base and Topping

1 loaf of Cuban bread, split lengthwise
4 tablespoons of butter, softened
2 tablespoons of spicy brown mustard

Mix softened butter and mustard together. Spread on bread and toast in 400* oven until
Lightly brown and just crispy. When cool, cut into 1” cubes.

Filling

1½ lbs. pork cubes
1 Cup Mojo Sauce
4 dill pickles, diced
¼ pound of deli ham, sliced and cut into strips

Marinade pork in mojo sauce several hours or overnight. Sauce can be bottled or home made.
Remove pork cubes from marinade and brown in a frying pan with a little olive oil. When browned, toss pork cubes with ham and pickles and set aside.

photo_2.JPGSwiss cheese Sauce

4 tablespoons of butter
4 tablespoons of flour
¾ pound of sliced Swiss cheese, cut into strips, reserving 4 slices for the top of the casserole.
1 1/2 cups+ Chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk flour and butter together to make a roux. Add broth to make a sauce. Add cut up cheese, whisking to a smooth texture. Add salt and pepper. Whisk sauce adding broth, as needed to make a smooth but thin sauce (think of the consistency of heavy cream).

Lightly butter a casserole dish, and place a layer of bread cubes in the bottom. Add pork filling, spreading evenly over bread. Pour half of the Swiss cheese sauce over the bread and meat layers.
photo_4.JPGTop with a layer of bread cubes and then evenly pour the remaining sauce over the top of the bread.
Top all with Swiss cheese slices and bake in a 350* oven until cheese melts and casserole begins to bubble. 20-30 minutes.

Serve with a salad or Cole slaw as a side.

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