Friday, December 7, 2018

Mojo-Roast Pork and Cubanos!

Tomorrow will be Matthew's first day on skis. Here in Colorado, little kids ski for free during the winter season and the resort of your choice will even provide them with free lessons if they are complete novices. Paul and I both grew up in Montana where learning to ski at a young age is a necessity as it is so ingrained in the culture up there. When we moved here, one of the perks of being so close to the mountains, we assumed, was that we could get back on skis more easily and teach our children how to ski as well. Paul in particular is an excellent skier who has been out to the Montana slopes several times since we have been married. Last time I went skiing was when I was pregnant with our first baby. The conditions were terrible - very icy - and I took a bad fall. A couple weeks later, I lost the baby. The doctors assured me that the fall while skiing had not disrupted the pregnancy, but I wasn't so sure and as a result haven't been back on skis since. Paul is determined to get me back on the slopes next winter when we can leave Daniel for longer periods of time. But for now, Paul's focus is getting Matthew learning to ski and, hopefully, also learning to love it.

When Matthew first found out about skiing, he was excited to learn. He was practically bouncing off the walls when Paul took him to the sporting goods store to purchase ski gear and lift tickets. We found it was less expensive to purchase kid skis and boots than it is to rent them, so Matthew walked out of the store the proud owner of his own pair of bright red ski boots and skis. He tried them on at home for his sisters and me and then carefully propped them up in his closet in anticipation of the day he would get to use them. We purchased him a slightly used, high-quality ski coat, gloves, thermal underwear, and goggles to keep him warm and protected at 12,000 feet elevation. Matthew was just about ready to get out and ski. His first, all-day lesson was scheduled and set for December 8th.

Last night, at dinner, a few days before his scheduled lesson, Matthew announced that he no longer wanted to ski. "You never asked me my opinion! You just signed me up without my permission!" he whined.

Paul just about blew his top: "What do you mean?? You have been excited! What about all the time you spend parading around in your new ski gear in front of your sisters and Mom? At any point you could have said you didn't want to go!"

Matthew continued reiterating that he didn't want to go: "I'm afraid I'm going to be blown off the mountain!"

At this, we all laughed and attempted to quell his fears because they were ridiculous. Then Emma piped up: "You can take me! I want to learn how to ski. I'm going to be a good skier because I never give up!"

This is true. She is exceptionally stubborn.

Emma's enthusiasm enraged Matthew. If we ever want to motivate Matthew to do something, all we have to do is ask Emma to do it first and suddenly Matthew will spring to action. This even works for household chores, like taking out the garbage or picking up the dog poop.

"Emma, you can't learn to ski! I'm going to ski first!" Matthew snapped at her. The fight didn't stop there, and soon enough a grumpy Matthew was sent to his room for berating his sister.

While we cleaned up the dishes, Paul began to lament about whether we should be encouraging Matthew to ski or not. More than anything, Paul really wants Matthew to have a good experience on his first day so that he will enjoy skiing. A bad first day could taint his perception of skiing for life. That's when I suggested that maybe we should have signed Emma up at the same time so they could take lessons together. Those two are in constant competition with one another, in this case their combativeness could actually do some good. They could possibly drive one another to greater success.

Too late for that now. So Matthew will be hitting the slopes alone (Paul will be skiing too) on Saturday. We will see if he takes to skiing as much as his father hopes, or whether he will be sitting out the remainder of the season with his mother and his cute baby brother who is just so adorable right now that all the photos are about HIM.

Also, I shamefully have to put in a plug for my beloved alma mater and her football team. The Fighting Irish are headed to the playoffs! Daniel is particularly excited about it. This was taken during the USC game, which Daniel watched intently in between chewing on a package of diaper wipes.

So let's transition to the recipe for today. Actually it's a bonus day, for I have TWO recipes for you. This snowy, chilly weather is perfect for my favorite combination of foods - soups and sandwiches! My favorite sandwich in the world is one that incorporates all my pregnancy cravings between two slices of bread: pickles, mustard, and cheese. What sandwich is that? The Cuban Sandwich, or Cubanos to some people.

A good Cuban Sandwich consists of delicious roast pork, shaved ham, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard piled high on a special, slightly sweet and chewy Cuban bread. The sandwich is pressed and toasted on a griddle until the cheese is all melty and the outside of the bread is golden brown and crunchy. It is the greatest combination of flavors in the world.

In order to have a good Cuban Sandwich, a good recipe for roast pork must be used. Anyone ever see the movie Chef? If you haven't, it's basically the story of a chef who leaves his career working in an upscale restaurant to make cuban sandwiches on a food truck. In the movie, they show him making this amazing citrus marinated, slow roasted pork that he uses on his sandwiches. The recipe was developed for the movie by famed chef Roy Choi and it is one of the greatest ways to use pork shoulder ever. I usually use his recipe to roast a large pork shoulder and then serve it sliced with mojo sauce and potatoes and salad one night for dinner and then use the leftovers to make Cuban sandwiches the next night.

If you don't have cuban bread, and really it is pretty hard to find unless you make it yourself, just use french bread. Actually, you can buy day-old bread from Jimmy Johns for practically nothing and it works PERFECT in this recipe.

In summary, make the roasted pork one night for dinner. Then, use the leftovers to assemble into the best cuban sandwiches this side of Miami. It's the perfect stay-inside-while-looking-at-the-snow-falling type of meal.

Have I mentioned that I'm so thankful I'm not the one freezing on the ski slopes this weekend?

Mojo-Marinated Roast Pork
from Roy Choi for the movie Chef, as seen on RecipeTin Eats

For the Marinade and Pork:
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cilantro / coriander, lightly packed
1 tbsp orange zest
3/4 cup orange juice, fresh
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup mint leaves, lightly packed
8 garlic cloves
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves, packed (or 1/2 tbsp dried oregano)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
4 lb pork shoulder, skinless and boneless

For the Mojo Sauce:
2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
Salt and pepper

Combine Marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend until the herbs and garlic are finely chopped. Alternatively, you can finely chop/mince the garlic and herbs then mix all ingredients in a bowl.
Place in a large ziplock bag with the pork. Place in the fridge overnight (in a bowl, just to be safe).
Remove the pork from the Marinade and bring to room temperature. Reserve the Marinade.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place the pork on a rack in a roasting dish (or on a couple of onions have, to elevate the pork). Cover with a lid or double layer or foil, slightly tented so it is not pressed tightly against the pork.
Place in the oven and bake for 2 hrs 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes to brown.

Remove from the oven and place on a plate, loosely covered with foil. Rest for 20 minutes before serving with the Mojo Sauce on the side. I decorated mine with pan fried slices of oranges and extra cilantro/coriander leaves.

To make the Mojo Sauce, place the reserved Marinade, the Mojo Sauce ingredients and 2 tbsp of the roasting pan drippings into a small saucepan. Bring to boil and add salt and pepper to taste. You might also want to add more lime juice or even a touch of sugar. Turn the heat down and simmer for 1 minute, then remove from the stove and set aside. Serve with the Pork!


2 thin slices ham
4 thin slices Mojo Marinated Pork
2 pieces of white baguettes , sliced in half (I used Jimmy John's Baguettes!)
Yellow mustard
2 thin slices Swiss cheese
2 or 3 dill pickles , thinly sliced

Heat skillet over medium heat. Add ham and pork slices, and cook each side until slightly browned then remove to a plate.

Butter cut sides of baguettes then place in the skillet, cut side down, for 2 minutes until lightly browned. Remove onto work surface.

Layer the bottom of the baguettes with pork, ham, then cheese and pickles. Cut, break or fold the ham, pork and cheese so they fit. Spread the cut side of the bun tops with mustard then place on the sandwich.

Butter the bottom AND top of the outside of the baguettes.

Heat skillet over medium high heat. Place the baguettes in the skillet, top with a sheet of baking paper then weigh it down with a heavy skillet or pot (use cans if necessary for extra weight so the sandwich compressed). Cook for 3 minutes on each side, until dark golden brown and crispy, and the cheese is melted.

Let sandwiches stand 1 minute before cutting in half. Serve IMMEDIATELY.

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