How do you take a boring, depressing day like a Monday and make it fun and exciting? Why add a little latin flair to it that’s how!
I have a confession to make here: I have never actually MADE plantains before! :O Shocking yes I know…Also, never attempted a cuban sandwich but although I’ve only eaten 1 in my life, it was enough to make me fall in love with it and dream about when we could some day be re-connected. Yes, they are that good.
Seeing as how I do not have an operable oven at the moment and our grill is still buried DEEP under a snow pile, we ended up making the pork portion of this a little differently than I normally would have.
So what is a Cuban Sandwich?
It’s like a Panini but better. Usually roasted or grill pork loin marinated in mojo (check) cooked until it falls apart, layered on a cuban roll (I used a sub roll) with ham (check), swiss (I used low sodium american cheese) and a nice layer of yellow mustard and slices of dill pickles (check aaaand check!). I had seen this on TV years and years ago and when I spotted it on the menu at my one and only visit to The Cheesecake Factory, I had to give it a whirl. NOT a disappointment.
Seeing as how I could not roast or grill the entire loin, Matt sliced the pork loin and then placed the whole thing in a bag with some mojo sauce. Very easy to find at the grocery store or Wal-Mart. We then broiled them (the top coil is still working) and they came out lovely but still would have been better as an entire roast.
Next for plantains. I’ve eaten plenty of these little babies in my time but never attempting cooking them. I’ve watch my buddy Cookin Fanatic make these before and I’ve seen it on TV countless times. I figured I had the guist of it. I did end up using the Alton Brown, my go-to man for new recipes, recipe but I did not use NEARLY as much oil! They came out delicious although some of them could have cooked a little longer. It’s amazing how much they smell like a banana when you peel them (they look just like green bananas at the store only larger..don’t go confusing them!). The general principle is simple: peel, slice, fry, smash, soak fry again and season. Got it!
I highly recommend starting with these and then working on the cuban sandwiches. They are a little more time consuming but if you are roasting an entire pork loin, start with that.
Plantains with Honey & Chipotle
(adapted from “Fried Plantains” by Alton Brown)
- 3 large green plantains
- 2 cups of cold water
- 3 tbs of coarse sea salt
- 3 cloves of garlic smashed
- canola oil
- chipotle (dried, smoked chiles, powdered)
- ground sea salt for when done
- Start by smashing the garlic cloves and placing them in a medium bowl with water and sea salt). I’m not sure this actually did anything in terms of flavoring the plantains but it was a nice idea.
- Peel plantains and get a small amount of oil (just enough to coat the pan) cooking over medium high heat in a large cast iron skillet (it is a well known fact that cast iron is the absolutely best for “frying” anything!)
- slice diagonally into 1 in pieces (you don’t HAVE to make them diagonally I just felt inclined)
- lay 2 layers of paper towels onto a jelly roll pan and top with a wire rack, ALSO topped with a layer of paper towel. Then layer another jelly roll pan or plate with a double layer of paper towel also for drying the soaked plantains.
- Fry the plantains in batches cooking until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side.
- Remove immediately to the paper towel lined rack and start the next batch.
- Blot the top with an additional paper towel and then SMASH the plantains (or squish slowly really, smash maybe isn’t the best word) with the back or a spoon or spatula so that they are flattened and add to the water, garlic salt mixture. Let soak for just a minute or 2. Remove and transfer immediately to the paper towel lined pan/plate and blot dry.
- When all of the plantains have been fried once and soaked and bloated, removed the soaking liquid from the bowl and rinse out and dry (no need to dirty another dish!)
- Fry the plantains in batches a SECOND time, adding more oil as needed, this time until crispy about 2-4 minutes per side.
Really, is there anything better than watching a good looking man make your meal that just HAPPENS to also be your boyfriend? Lucky, I know right! 😉 This is a good picture because you can see the pork broiling for the cuban sandwiches and Matt frying the plantains for the second time…and our hideous kitchen. I appologize for the latter.
- Remove to the paper towel lined rack and blot dry slightly.
- Add to the bowl and drizzle with honey, a sprinkling of ground sea salt and chipotle. Watch out for the chipotle, use too much and you will regret it! Make sure you sprinkle it one them. Toss the whole thing in the bowl coat and serve immediately, repeating the process with the next batch.
THese are amazingly good. Starchy much like a potato but with the slighly hint of banana, the little bit of salt with the sweet from the honey and the smoky spiciness of the chipotle. BRILLIANT! Just brilliant! Served with the Cuban Sandwich it’s a match made in heaven.
- 1 lb pork loin marinated in mojo (you can roast or slice and broil like we did)
- 4 sub rolls
- 1/2 lb of honey ham (low sodium)
- 1/2 lb of swiss, provolone or american cheese (also low sodium, you always want to go low sodium on deli meat!)
- 4-6 tbs yellow mustard divided
- 16 pickle slices (I like the Claussen deli sliced ones for this they are perfect!)
- butter or Smart Balance (I used the later)
- grill or roast you pork loin and set aside.
- turn your Panini press or George Forman grill on (I used my George Forman obvi. It’s little but it’s handy!)
- cut the roll the long way and butter the outside. Layer with mustard, ham, cheese and sliced pork and then put 4 pickle slices in the middle.
- Grill and slice. Enjoy! (VERY simply!)
I realized I’ve skipped a day here. I’m STILL battling my cold BUT I’m attempting a workout tonight and depending on how that goes I may tempt fate with Body Combat tomorrow AM at 5:15am.
I keep finding myself actually wishing the snow would melt and it would warm up a bit so I can start running! I’m panicking slightly because I only have 3 months before I’m going to attempt my first 5K! Will the snow away for me will you?
- BREAKFAST: smoothie with Chobani 0%, milk (I ran out of almond milk), ground flax seed, a banana and frozen blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.
- SNACK: 1 slice of light oatmeal bread with 1 tbs Teddy’s Peanut Butter and 1/2 a Horizon low fat chocolate milk (have you seen these things?! Love them, LOVE them! They are room temp organic milk! I bought a case a BJ’s the other day. I love that I can keep them in my desk at work for a good hunger fighter snack and they don’t go bad! Genius!)
- LUNCH: a sampling of Penne San Remo from Buca di Beppo (they are at my work today 🙂 )
- DINNER: I’m making my protein packed Pork “Fried” Rice