This is not my first post regarding pulled pork leftovers (nor will it be my last) but I say with almost full confidence that this is my favorite. These Smoky Cuban Sandwiches were created (as many of my recipes are) from the question….”what is hiding in my fridge that I need to use before it goes bad?” I hate wasting food and my husband hates leftovers, so I’ve got to reinvent anything we haven’t eaten into something entirely new. Good thing I love a challenge!
One thing we always (and I mean always) have leftovers of is pulled pork. It’s like the food that never ends. It just goes on and on my friends (anybody else watch Lambchop as a kid? No? Well then I guess you won’t have the song that never ends stuck in your head right now. Lucky son of a gun.) Wow! Sidetracked. Back to the pulled pork. Seriously… we always have leftovers. What we can’t eat right away, we freeze in large gallon bags. I’ve come up with lots of fun ways to re-use pulled pork because of the endless bounty and it’s inherent affordability.
Did you know that a pork shoulder is at least $1-$2 less per pound than ground beef? Start changing your mind-set on a few things and you could save your family some serious cash and effort. Make 2 batches of pulled pork a month, freeze into portions and use in place of your ground beef. Think pulled pork tacos, lasagna, enchiladas, omelets, these huevos rancheros, soups. The possibilities are endless! This post/recipe was born from our beloved hoard of leftover pulled pork! If you only ever used leftover pulled pork to make these Cubans, then your life would be the best life in the whole world.
These Smoky Cuban Sandwiches are made with layers of citrus seasoned pulled pork, peppery ham, and melty swiss. Then we bring in the killer flavor combo of dill pickles and robust mustard. All of this is then stuffed inside a loaf of crusty bread, pressed flat, and grilled to perfection. If you didn’t know this about me, pickles and mustard are my soul mates. Sorry babe. Essentially this sandwich was sent down from heaven to lift up my spirits and bring me joy. It’s warm, savory, melty, crispy, and all of the things that a good sandwich should be. A few tips for the best sandwich ever: use good quality stone ground dijon mustard. Yellow will work, but the mustard is such a key component that you want it to stand out as superb. Also, look for a simple cured deli-sliced ham (mine was peppered ham) instead of a honey or brown sugar or maple hap. Again, you can use whatever you’ve got, but too much sweetness can sometime throw off the flavor balance. As far as pickles, I only ever use Claussen’s (from the refrigerator section) because I am spoiled and picky about my pickles. You can use whatever brand your family is partial to.
Smoky Cuban Sandwiches
- 1 loaf French bread (sliced in half lengthwise)
- 2 cups leftover pulled pork
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 lime (zest and juice)
- 1 tsb oregano
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsb cracked black pepper
- 1/2 lb thinly sliced deli ham (peppered)
- 1/4 lb deli sliced baby Swiss cheese
- 1/4 cup stone ground dijon mustard
- 10-12 slices sandwich style dill pickles
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
- Turn on your grill to medium heat and close the lid. Allow the grill to preheat while you butter the cut sides of your bread.
- Place the bread, buttered side down, directly on your grill grate and cook for 2-4 minutes until evenly toasted. Remove to a large cutting board that has been covered with a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. Place a large, heavy pan in your grill and close the lid. The pan will preheat while you prepare your sandwich.
- In a large saute pan, combine the pork, orange juice, lime zest and juice, oregano, red pepper flakes, cumin, onion powder, salt and black pepper. Warm over medium heat until the sauce is evenly distributed throughout the pork and everything is warmed through.
- Layer the mustard, pickles, cheese, ham, and pork across the toasted sides of the bread. Press the halves of the bread together and wrap as tightly as you can with the foil.
- Place the foiled sandwich on the grill and top with the heavy, preheated pan. Turn the temperature of your grill down to low and let the sandwich get all toasty and the cheese melted. Check the sandwich after about 10 minutes.
- Allow the sandwich to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing into individual servings. Top with chopped cilantro.