Recipe: paseo cuban roast pork sandwich
I have this thing for sandwiches… but you already knew that! Last year when I was in Seattle for my friends’ wedding, my other friends took me to stand in line at Paseo, home of the best sandwich in the world. With a title like that, it’s only a matter of time before my grubby little hands get a hold of said sandwich.
the cuban roast pork from paseo
That was some sandwich. A juicy, drippy, savory, heady, tangy, spicy mess nestled between toasted bread. It’s one of those deals where you eat it and you have to continue eating it lest you wind up wearing it. Best sandwich in the world? I’m not sure about that. Damn good sandwich? YES. HELL YES. Obviously, the next step was to try to reproduce it myself… I searched online and took a chance on some random recipe because I honestly had little clue where to start.
orange juice, rum, olive oil, salt, pepper, limes, garlic, oregano, pork shoulder
mince the garlic and oregano; juice the lime
The recipe called for mango juice and orange juice, but I live in the sticks. There was no mango juice to be had, so I doubled the orange juice and called it good. The magical pork shoulder is then marinated for at least 3 hours, although overnight is recommended. I went for 24 hours. Why not?
mix the marinade together
place the pork and marinade in the baggy together
When the pork was done soaking, I gave it a pan-sear on each side to brown up some flavor before placing it in a baking dish with the marinade and baked it for a couple of hours. Actually, the recipe has a total baking time of 2+ hours, but I let mine bake for four because the connective tissue just wasn’t breaking down to my liking. I’m picky like that.
While the pork was transforming into a fall-apart-heap-of-deliciousness in the oven, I began work on the accompaniments. [Ever see “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” Whenever I think of the word accompaniment, I think “gee-tar”.] I think more than half of the magic of a sandwich (for me, anyway) rests in the goodies that get stuffed between the bread.
onions, garlic, lime… this is looking good
roast the garlic
I popped the garlic into the oven to roast next to the pork and then set to work on caramelizing some onions. Caramelized onions can turn onion haters into lovers. The pungent sulfurous compounds are traded out for an earthy, sweet, mellow flavor. Right on!
slice the onions
fry them up in the same pan with that beautiful pork fond (the brown bits)
almost caramelized (i did get impatient)
When the garlic was ready, I removed it from the oven and peeled the cloves. The soft and creamy roasted garlic mashed up into a nice paste which I added to some mayonnaise, dill relish, lime juice, and olive oil. The recipe wanted me to pour the lime juice over the garlic before roasting, but I preferred my lime juice straight into the sauce.
chop the roasted garlic
mix the sauce
Eventually, after periodic basting, the pork was done. I kept checking it for that fork-tender stage, but with pork shoulder it really does have to go at least four hours (based on my past experiences) or else it’s just tough and not falling apart at all. Once out of the oven, start breaking down the pork with two forks. If your pork is cooked through, it will be a fun task. If it’s not cooked long enough, it will be really frustrating.
checking the pork
And now for the home stretch! Be sure to get yourself some good bread with a crusty outside and soft inside. Sounds simple enough, but you wouldn’t believe how hard that is to find around here. I cut the bread lengthwise and slathered that heavenly garlic mayo on it before toasting it in the oven. It’s ready when the mayo starts bubbling. Then pile on the pork and onions, some lettuce, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, and more garlic mayo (MORE!).
slather the garlic mayo – yes, you must
lettuce, cilantro, peppers, and more mayo
It’s not exactly like the Paseo Cuban roast pork sandwich, but it’s close enough for me here in Colorado. Jeremy (who never had the original) thinks it’s great. And yes, it made a complete mess when we ate the sandwiches. That garlic mayo is worth the price of admission. Considering you’re starting with a 3-4 pound pork shoulder, this makes a lot of sandwiches. Like at least a dozen. Mmmmm, a dozen…
saving me a flight to seattle
Paseo Cuban Roast Pork Sandwich
from this recipe
1 baguette (ideally something with a texture more like the bread used in banh mi)
garlic mayo (see below)
roast pork (see below)
2 large yellow onions
pickled jalapeño peppers
1 cup mango juice (or sub 1 cup orange juice)
2 cups orange juice
2 tbsps olive oil
1 lime, juice of
2 tbsps garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 oz. rum
3-4 lb. pork shoulder (bone in)
1 bulb garlic
olive oil for drizzling
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsps olive oil
1 lime, juice of
1/2 tbsp dill pickle relish
Make the pork: Combine the mango juice, orange juice, olive oil, lime juice, chopped garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and rum in a large vessel or ziploc bag. Place the pork in the vessel or bag and marinate for a minimum of 3 hours (but you’d do well to do 12 or even 24 hours). When the pork is ready, save the marinade and preheat the oven to 300°F. Sear the meat on all sides in a lightly greased frying pan or skillet until it’s nicely browned. Remove the pork to a baking dish (BUT DON’T WASH THE SKILLET/PAN – save it for later) and pour the marinade into the baking dish. Tent the meat with foil and bake for 2 hours. The original recipe said 45 minutes, but that didn’t get me to a fall-apart texture. Remove the foil and cook uncovered for another 2 hours, basting the meat with the marinade ever 15 minutes and turning the meat after an hour. Remove from oven when the meat is fork-tender and comes off the bone easily. Shred the pork with two forks.
Make the garlic mayonnaise: While the pork is cooking in the oven, slice the top off the garlic bulb and place it in a small baking dish or on a piece of foil that has been pulled up at the edges (to form a bowl). Drizzle a little olive oil over the top and bake in the oven (next to the pork) for thirty minutes or until the garlic is soft. Peel the skins off the garlic cloves and mash the garlic into a paste. Combine the garlic with mayonnaise, olive oil, lime juice, and pickle relish. Stir until blended.
Caramelize the onions: Peel and slice the onions into 1/4-inch strips. Heat a little olive oil on medium flame in the same pan you used to sear the pork. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from heat when the onions are caramelized.
Assemble the goodness: Cut an 8-inch long piece of a baguette or other similarly shaped bread that has a nice, crusty outside and soft, chewy inside. Slice it in half, lengthwise. Spread garlic mayonnaise on both pieces of bread and bake or toast in the oven until the mayonnaise starts to bubble and puff. Remove from the oven. Layer the pork, onions, lettuce, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, and more garlic mayonnaise on one piece of the bread. Top with the other half of the bread and serve. The pork can probably yield a dozen sandwiches.