Tired of making or serving the same old, same old at your Super Bowl party? Sure, everyone expects chips, dip and some form of libation. But what about the main event (food event, that is)? Are you just going to throw some burgers on the barbie, or really pull–a–lazy and pick up a pre–made sandwich platter? If you’re willing to put forth a little more effort, I’ll be happy to share a recipe I created for a sandwich contest last year that will be a perfect addition to your big game day party.
Sadly, the contest judges weren’t as impressed (read: I didn’t win) as my eager eaters were, but at least it resulted in a great sandwich recipe for my efforts. And, some of the main ingredients are quite apropos for a pigskin–themed party. Before I divulge the recipe, I’ll give you a little background on what a traditional Cuban sandwich is (also referred to as Cubans or Cubanos).
You’re probably familiar with sliders, given their current popularity these days. I just borrowed the size concept and applied it to the Cubanos, which also happens to work out well for party buffets. Those of you living anywhere but the eastern U.S. might not have ever heard of a Cubano (myself included), but once you see the ingredients, you’ll understand why it has such universal appeal. It’s basically a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with pickles. Who doesn’t love grilled cheese sandwiches? Nobody I have ever given birth to or know!
But what makes an authentic Cubano? It’s the exact combination of ingredients and how it is grilled. The components of bread, pork, ham, cheese and pickles are assembled and pressed between two hot plates (a plancha) that resemble a panini press. The result is a sandwich that is crispy–thin and oozing with melted cheese. It’s really the pork, though, that gives it its distinct Cuban flavor. (It is slow–roasted with mojo—a citrus and garlic marinade.) And most recipes insist that only varieties of Cuban bread (pan de agua) be used and only Swiss–style cheese. As you’ll see below, I took a few liberties with my sandwich creation to comply with contest rules and to add a corny twist. Just as I did, feel free to substitute ingredients to suit your taste and needs.
WI wine recommendation: Because there are two types of pork and many flavors in this dish, there are more than a few wine options that would work well. A full–flavored Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, or Pinot Noir are all good choices. Pinot Noir works well with salty meats like ham, but since this sandwich also has a certain amount of sweetness and spice to it, a German Riesling or Zinfandel would be nice. Rieslings also taste great with smoked ham. We had this with one of our favorite German Rieslings from Dr. Loosen and it was perfect!
Corny Cubano Sliders
1 recipe cornbread (included below), or use store–bought
1–2 tablespoons olive oil (amount used will depend on the size you choose to make the sliders)
1–1/2 tablespoons honey mustard
1–1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 slices Swiss style cheese (I used Jarlsberg), cut to chosen slider size
Dill pickle slices (enough to create a single layer on each slider)
1–1/2 cups pulled pork (I used refrigerated leftovers from a 3 lb pork shoulder that was cooked in a slow cooker with one 10–1/2 oz can condensed French onion soup and two minced garlic cloves for 6–8 hours on low setting)
1/2 cup pureed Mezzetta Vinaigretta Southwestern (from one whole 12 oz jar that was blended until smooth in a food processor; a blender can also be used to do this)
4 slices ham, shaved deli–thin (I used smoked honey ham)
Optional garnish: 4 cherry tomatoes, 4 dill pickle circles, 4 bamboo party forks
Notes: If using store–bought cornbread, be sure to get cornbread that is fresh and moist, not overly dry or crumbly. If you are unable to find Mezzetta Vinaigretta Southwestern, substitute any variety of spicy or flavorful Mexican salsa or sauce.
For home–made cornbread: Preheat oven to 425° F. Mix together 1–1/8 cups cornmeal, 1–1/8 cups all purpose flour, 2–1/4 tablespoons baking powder, 1–1/2 tablespoons sugar, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk 3 large eggs until foamy. Add 2–1/4 cups buttermilk to the eggs and continue whisking until thoroughly combined. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture, add 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels and stir until the dry ingredients are just moist. Do not over–stir (it is fine to leave a few lumps). Pour mixture into a 9–1/2 inch x 15 inch jelly roll pan that has been heavily greased with cooking spray, butter or olive oil. Bake for 14–15 minutes, or until the cornbread is very lightly browned on top and has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan. Do not over–bake or cornbread may be prone to crumbling when sliced or during the grilling process.
Preheat panini press.
Cut four slider–sized squares from the cornbread. (The sliders pictured in the photos are about 2–1/2 inches square.) Take each cornbread square and carefully cut it in half (horizontally) with a serrated knife to create two slices. Line up the bottom slices (non–cut sides up) next to each of the corresponding top slices (also non–cut sides up). Brush the olive oil on all of the non–cut sides of the bottoms and tops, turning the bottom slices cut–side up when finished.
Mix the mustard and mayonnaise together. Spread a thin layer of the mixture on top of each of the bottom halves of the cornbread slices.
Put one piece of the sized–cheese slices on top of each bottom next, then arrange a layer of pickle slices on top of the cheese.
Warm up the cold pulled pork in a small bowl in a microwave oven (about 1–1/2 to 2 minutes on high).
Using a fork, mix the pureed Vinaigretta Southwestern into the warm pulled pork, shredding any meat chunks with the fork as you mix in the sauce. Once the meat is uniformly shredded and is thoroughly combined with the sauce, divide it among the four sandwiches by mounding it on top of the pickle layers.
Place one piece of ham (that has been scrunched–up to fit the slider) on top of each of the pulled pork layers.
Top the ham with the remaining cornbread top slices (cut side down). Place all four sliders in preheated panini press and lower the lid. Note: Do not overly exert downward pressure on the lid. The weight of the lid is adequate enough to properly grill the sandwiches. If you don’t have a panini press, you can grill these in a frying pan. Place a piece of aluminum foil over the tops of the sliders and then top with another frying pan that has been adequately weighted down enough to slightly compress the sandwiches.
Grill for about two minutes, or until cheese melts and grill marks appear on cornbread.
Remove sliders from press and place on serving platter.
Optional garnish: Spear bamboo party forks into tomatoes and pickle slices, and then insert one garnish into the middles of each slider.
January 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm
Friday Foodie Links - Great Recipes from around the Web | the wicked noodle said:
[...] this week, from both my favorite blogs as well as some newbies that show a lot of promise!AppetizersCorny Cubano Sliders by Wine ImbiberWinning WonTon Cups by Dish by TrishLayered Greek Dip by Noble PigBaked Vegetable [...]
Lauren at KeepItSweet said:
Love this idea! I love cornbread and never thought to use it as the bread for a sandwich. It would be really good with regular BBQ too.
It is really good with BBQ-type meats. Any spicy or flavorful loose-meat fillings really work well with the slight sweetness of the cornbread. I’m thinking of eating my chili sandwich-style next time!
Looks good. I’ve learned something new today. Thanks! I’m sure my family will love it. They always like trying out new stuff.
I so want to make these. They look so good.