Indulge in the melt-in-your-mouth perfection of the Cuban sandwich. The Perfect Cuban Sandwich: How to Make Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork that Melts in Your Mouth
The Cuban sandwich is a classic sandwich that originated in Cuba. It is made with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard and is then pressed until hot and crispy. This recipe for a Cuban sandwich uses slow-cooker pulled pork for a flavorful and easy-to-make version of this classic dish.
This iconic dish tantalizes taste buds with its layers of flavor and tender pulled pork. But what if you could effortlessly create the star ingredient, slow-cooked pulled pork, in your own kitchen?
We tried the recipe from Valerie Bertinelli of the Food Network. This simple yet flavorful recipe ensures that each bite of your Cuban sandwich is packed with succulent, fall-apart tender meat. You can achieve the same mouthwatering results as your favorite Cuban sandwich joint with a few key ingredients and a slow cooker.
We followed the process of seasoning the pork, slow cooking it to perfection, and then pulling it apart to create those delectable strands of porky goodness. Get ready to elevate your sandwich-making skills and become the hero of your next gathering. Let’s dive into the world of slow-cooker pulled pork and discover how to achieve moist, flavorful meat that will make your Cuban sandwich unforgettable.
Recipes can always be adapted by changing a few ingredients or steps. In this case, we tried seasoning the meat with Haitian Epis, cumin, and paprika. I think the resulting flavor is better, but both recipes are still delicious and worth making for lunch.
The key ingredients for the perfect Cuban sandwich
- Cuban bread: This is a bread typically made with lard, giving it a unique flavor and texture. It is also typically quite soft, which helps keep the sandwich together when pressed.
- Roast pork: This is the most important ingredient in a Cuban sandwich. The pork should be juicy, flavorful, and sliced thinly so that it is easy to eat.
- Ham: The ham adds a salty and smoky flavor to the sandwich. It should be sliced thinly so that it is easy to eat.
- Swiss cheese: The Swiss cheese melts beautifully and adds a gooey and creamy texture to the sandwich.
- Pickles: The pickles add a tart and refreshing flavor to the sandwich. They also help to cut through the richness of the meat and cheese.
- Mustard: The mustard adds a bit of heat and tang to the sandwich. It also helps to bind the ingredients together.
- Salami: (optional) Some people like to add salami to their Cuban sandwiches. This adds a bit of spiciness and flavor to the sandwich. We did not add salami as the original did not call for it. We instead added uncured turkey ham.
The key to making a perfect Cuban sandwich is to use high-quality ingredients and to assemble the sandwich carefully. The bread should be toasted until it is golden brown and crispy. The meat and cheese should be evenly distributed. And the pickles should be placed on top of the meat so that they don’t get soggy.
Once the sandwich is assembled, it should be pressed until it is hot and crispy. This can be done in a panini press, a sandwich press, or even a heavy skillet. The pressing process helps to melt the cheese and combine the sandwich’s flavors.
The art of slow-cooking pulled pork.
Slow-cooking pulled pork is an art form. Creating a truly delicious and tender dish takes time, patience, and a few key ingredients.
The first step is to choose the right cut of pork. The best cuts for slow-cooking pulled pork are pork shoulder or pork butt. These cuts are high in fat and connective tissue, which break down during cooking and create the tender, juicy texture that is characteristic of pulled pork.
Once you have your cut of pork, it’s time to season it. You might think that a simple seasoning of salt, pepper, and garlic powder is all you need. But not at all! You need to add other spices, such as paprika, cumin, or chili powder, to make the meat flavorful.
Many recipes for pulled pork require searing the meat. This method helps to lock in the flavor and prevent the meat from drying out during cooking. We did not follow this method. Instead, we place the marinated pork in the crockpot and let it slow-cooked in its own juice for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours at low heat.
Once the pork is cooked, it’s time to shred it. Use two forks to pull the pork apart until it is in long, thin strands.
Selecting the right cut of pork for your pulled pork to make the Cuban Sandwich
The best cut of pork for pulled pork is pork shoulder or pork butt. These cuts are high in fat and connective tissue, which break down during cooking and create the tender, juicy texture that is characteristic of pulled pork.
- Pork shoulder: This cut comes from the front shoulder of the pig and is typically bone-in and has a thick layer of fat. It is a good choice for pulled pork because it is relatively inexpensive and has a lot of flavor.
- Pork butt: This cut comes from the upper part of the shoulder and is typically boneless. It is a bit more expensive than pork shoulder but is also more tender and has a better flavor.
Other cuts of pork that can be used for pulled pork include:
- Boston butt: This is a boneless pork shoulder cut often used for pulled pork.
- Picnic roast: This is a bone-in cut of pork shoulder that is also a good choice for pulled pork.
- Spareribs: These are the ribs that come from the belly of the pig. They can be cooked and shredded to make pulled pork, but they are not as tender as other cuts of pork.
When choosing a cut of pork for pulled pork, it is important to consider the size of the cut. A larger cut will take longer to cook, but it will also produce more pulled pork. If you are short on time, you can choose a smaller cut, but it will be important to cook it on high heat so that it does not dry out. Or cut the whole pork meat into smaller pieces or bit chunks.
No matter what cut of pork you choose, it is important to season it well before cooking. With the right pork cut, a little seasoning, and some patience, you can make delicious pulled pork that will surely please everyone.
Marinating and seasoning the pork for maximum flavor
Marinating and seasoning pork can help to enhance its flavor and tenderness. There are many different ways to marinate and season pork, but some of the most popular methods include:
- Marinating in a mixture of vinegar, oil, and spices is a classic way to marinate pork. The vinegar helps to tenderize the meat, while the oil helps to keep it moist. The spices add flavor.
- Marinating in a mixture of soy sauce, honey, and garlic is another popular way to marinate pork. The soy sauce adds flavor and helps to brown the meat. The honey adds sweetness, and the garlic adds a savory flavor. This is not authentic to Cuban cuisine but is a good alternative to marinating the meat.
- Seasoning with salt, pepper, and garlic powder is a simple but effective way to season pork. The salt helps to draw out the moisture in the meat, while the pepper and garlic powder add flavor.
- Seasoning with a dry rub: A dry rub is a mixture of spices that is rubbed onto the meat before cooking. This method allows the spices to really penetrate the meat and add flavor.
No matter which method you choose, it is important to marinate or season the pork for at least 30 minutes, but longer is better. This will give the flavors time to penetrate the meat and make it more flavorful.
When marinating or seasoning pork, it is important to use a food-safe container. You can also use a resealable plastic bag. If you are marinating the pork, make sure to turn it over at least once during the marinating process. This will help to ensure that all of the meat is evenly flavored.
It is ready to cook once the pork has been marinated or seasoned. You can cook it in a slow cooker.
Here are some additional tips for marinating and seasoning pork:
- Use fresh herbs and spices whenever possible.
- Don’t overcrowd the marinade or seasoning container.
- If you are marinating the pork in a glass container, be sure to cover it tightly with plastic wrap.
- If you are marinating the pork in a plastic bag, be sure to squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing it.
- If you are cooking the pork on the grill, be sure to preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
- If you are cooking the pork in the oven, be sure to preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If you cook the pork in a slow cooker, cook it on low heat for 6-8 hours.
With a little planning and effort, you can easily marinate and season pork for maximum flavor.
Slow-cooker tips and tricks for tender and juicy pulled pork
- Use the right cut of pork. The best cut of pork for pulled pork is pork shoulder or pork butt. These cuts are high in fat and connective tissue, which break down during cooking and create the tender, juicy texture that is characteristic of pulled pork.
- Season the pork well. A simple seasoning of salt, pepper, and garlic powder is all you need. You can also add other spices, such as paprika, cumin, or chili powder, to your liking.
- Don’t overcrowd the slow cooker. If you have too much pork in the slow cooker, it will not cook evenly.
- Cook the pork on low heat for 6-8 hours. This will help the meat to stay moist and tender.
- Shred the pork as soon as it is cooked. This will help to prevent it from drying out.
- Add some liquid to the slow cooker. This will help to keep the pork moist while it is cooking. You can use water, chicken broth, or even beer.
- Sear the pork before slow-cooking. This helps to lock in the flavor and prevent the meat from drying out during cooking. Sear the pork over medium-high heat until it is browned on all sides.
- If you are using a bone-in pork shoulder, remove the bone before slow-cooking. This will help the meat to cook more evenly.
- Check the pork periodically to make sure it is not overcooking. If the pork is getting too dry, add a little bit more liquid to the slow cooker.
These tips allow you to easily make tender and juicy pulled pork in your slow cooker.
Assembling the perfect Cuban sandwich
Here are the steps on how to assemble the perfect Cuban sandwich:
- Toast the Cuban bread. You can do this in a toaster or a panini press.
- Spread mustard on one slice of bread.
- Layer the ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, and pickles on top of the mustard. (Layer any additional topping on top of the meats).
- Top with the other slice of bread.
- Press the sandwich until it is hot and crispy. You can do this in a panini press, a sandwich press, or even a heavy skillet.
- Use real Cuban bread for an authentic Cuban Sandwich. This bread is typically made with lard, which gives it a unique flavor and texture.
- If you are roasting the meat. This will help the sandwich to be easier to eat.
- If using a slow cooker, I usually pan-fried the shredded meat for a few minutes to make it crispier.
- Use good quality Swiss cheese. This will melt beautifully and add a gooey and creamy texture to the sandwich.
- Use dill pickles. These pickles have a tart and refreshing flavor that complements the other flavors in the sandwich.
- Don’t overcrowd the sandwich. Eating will be difficult if you put too much stuff on the sandwich.
- Press the sandwich until it is hot and crispy. This will help to melt the cheese and combine the sandwich’s flavors.
With these tips, you can easily assemble the perfect Cuban sandwich.
Here are some variations on the classic Cuban sandwich:
- You can add salami to the sandwich. This adds a bit of spiciness and flavor to the sandwich.
- You can add avocado to the sandwich. This adds a creamy and healthy touch to the sandwich.
- You can add lettuce and tomato to the sandwich. This adds freshness and crunch to the sandwich.
- You can make a vegetarian Cuban sandwich by using tofu or tempeh instead of roast pork.
No matter how you make it, the Cuban sandwich is a delicious and satisfying meal. It combines sweet, salty, savory, and tangy flavors perfectly. And it is sure to please everyone who tries it.
Choosing the right bread and cheese for your sandwich
The bread and cheese are two of the most important ingredients in a Cuban sandwich. The bread should be soft and slightly sweet, while the cheese should be gooey and melty.
The traditional bread for a Cuban sandwich is Cuban bread. This bread is made with lard, which gives it a unique flavor and texture. It is also typically quite soft, which helps keep the sandwich together when pressed.
If you cannot find Cuban bread, you can use a similar type of bread, such as French bread or hoagie bread. However, the flavor and texture will not be quite the same.
The traditional cheese for a Cuban sandwich is Swiss cheese. This cheese melts beautifully and adds a gooey and creamy texture to the sandwich. However, you can also use other types of cheese, such as provolone or cheddar.
Here are some things to consider when choosing the right bread and cheese for your Cuban sandwich:
- Bread: The bread should be soft and slightly sweet. It should also be able to hold up to the weight of the other ingredients without becoming soggy.
- Cheese: The cheese should be gooey and melty. It should also have a mild flavor that will not overpower the other flavors in the sandwich.
Here are some specific breads and cheeses that you can use for your Cuban sandwich:
- Cuban bread
- French bread
- Hoagie bread
- Rye bread
- Swiss cheese
- Provolone cheese
- Cheddar cheese
- Gruyère cheese
- Havarti cheese
No matter what bread and cheese you choose, make sure that they are high-quality ingredients. This will ensure that your Cuban sandwich is delicious and satisfying.
Notes and Tips:
- For a more authentic Cuban sandwich, use Cuban bread. This bread is typically made with lard, which gives it a unique flavor and texture.
- You can make the pulled pork in a Dutch oven or oven-safe pot if you don’t have a slow cooker. Cook the pork in the pot over medium heat until browned, then add the onion, bell pepper, diced tomatoes, tomato soup, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cover the pot and bake in a preheated oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-3 hours or until the pork is easily shredded.
- You can also use store-bought pulled pork for this recipe.
- You can use any pickle you like if you don’t have dill pickle slices.
Conclusion and serving suggestions
The Cuban sandwich is delicious and satisfying, perfect for a quick and easy meal. It is also a great party food or potluck dish.
Here are some serving suggestions for the Cuban sandwich:
- Serve it on a platter with some chips and salsa.
- Serve it as part of a Cuban-themed meal, along with some black beans and rice, and a side salad.
- Make it into a sandwich wrap by using a large tortilla instead of bread.
- Grill the sandwich for a crispy exterior.
- Cut the sandwich into smaller pieces and serve it as finger food.
- Pack the sandwich in a lunchbox for a healthy and satisfying meal on the go.
No matter how you serve it, the Cuban sandwich is sure to be a hit with everyone who tries it.
Here are some additional tips for serving the Cuban sandwich:
- Make sure that the bread is toasted before assembling the sandwich. This will help to keep the sandwich together and prevent it from becoming soggy.
- Don’t overfill the sandwich. Eating will be difficult if you put too much stuff on the sandwich.
- If you are serving the sandwich at a party or potluck, make sure to cut it into individual sandwiches. This will make it easier for people to grab and eat.
- Serve the sandwich with some sides, such as chips and salsa, or a side salad. This will help to round out the meal and make it more satisfying.
With these tips, you can easily serve the Cuban sandwich in a delicious and appealing way.
A perfect Cuban sandwich is a delicious and satisfying meal. It combines sweet, salty, savory, and tangy flavors perfectly. And it is sure to please everyone who tries it.
- 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- Four 6-inch-long soft sub loaves split
- About 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 4 oz thinly sliced ham
- 4 oz Uncured Turkey Ham
- 6 oz sliced Swiss cheese
- 1 cup dill pickle chips
- About 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Rub the pork all over with the cumin, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place in a slow cooker and drizzle with the orange and lime juices. Cook on high heat until the meat is tender and falling apart, 6 hours. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely shred.
- Slice the bread in half and spread mustard on the bottom part of the bread. Build the sandwiches with the pulled pork, ham, Swiss and pickles (you will have some pulled pork left over).
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Place 2 of the sandwiches in the skillet and cover with another skillet, weighing it down with a heavy can or pot. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn the sandwiches over, replace the top skillet and continue to cook until the other side is golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches, adding the remaining butter to the skillet.
- Alternatively, you can season the pork with Haitian Epis, cumin, paprika, salt, and Pepper.
- Adding Mayonnaise is optional.
Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.
Nutrition info is automatically generated and provided as a courtesy and as an estimate only.