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Sunday, April 8, 2012
Cuban Ruben Especial!
A Cuban style reuben sandwich made with no German reuben ingredients! This Cuban Ruben Especial has the flavors that caribbean islanders and Cubans like!
While in Florida and the islands, I worked with just about every different nationality of people from the caribbean islands. There are many restaurant employees from Haiti, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Cuba in florida restaurants. One thing that I learned about caribbean island people, is that they do prefer food that is made in the style of their home island.
When an islander cooks an Italian tomato sauce, chances are that the tomato sauce will end up tasting like a creole tomato sauce. I have seen Italian chefs dump islander cook's creole sauces in the garbage while going ballistic on the islander cook for changing an old standard Italian tomato sauce recipe! Many islander cooks are set in their ways and they do not want to change their cooking style flavors.
I worked with many Cuban and Cayman Island kitchen personnel in Florida. When 4:20 came around in the afternoon, it was employee meal time. Why 4:20? I liked serving employee meal ten minutes early. The slang term 4:20 means its time for a marijuana break for islanders worldwide, except China! In China, 4:20 means that the cops are coming.
When I screamed 4:20 in a kitchen full of islanders, every islander got a big smile on their face and then they said "4:20 Mon! Yah Mon!" The association of marijuana to food is the uncontrollable munchies or cravings for food after smoking a spliff. At 4:20 in the afternoon, my islander kitchen staff was usually primed with munchy motivation after smoking weed by the dumptser, while taking out the garbage, so the employee's 4:20 meal was a welcome announcement! Yah Mon! Food Mon!
Islanders can be picky eaters. Many islanders only eat traditional food. Cream sauces and cheese are not what they usually crave. Just forget about serving islander employees exotic food. Plain simple slow cooked hearty home style food or fish is what the islanders prefer.
I watched a cook make a sheet pan full of German style reuben sandwiches for the Cuban and caribbean island employees one afternoon. I said to the cook "I hope that you are hungry, because these islanders will not eat that kind of food!" The cook looked at me like I was kidding or just being mean. At 4:20, only one islander employee ate a corned beef and sauerkraut reuben sandwich! The rest had that disappointing "I hate the cook and I'm going to make a wax voodoo doll that resembles him" look on their faces. The cook that made the employee meal had to quickly cook some eggs and potatoes for all the islanders that would not eat the heavy exotic German style reuben sandwich! A greasy reuben sandwich in a steaming hot humid tropical kitchen is something that no employee wants to eat!
After that 4:20 employee meal sandwich incident, I thought of ways to make a reuben sandwich more appealing for the caribbean islanders and Cuban kitchen employees. That is what a good chef does!
In the old days of diner cooking, we used to sell a sandwich called a Special. It was cold sandwich made with corned beef or roast beef on pumpernickel bread with cole slaw. That Special was a simple refreshing sandwich! Later, cooks also offered a CB Special or Roast Beef Special sandwich that was grilled like a reuben.
Slaw means cabbage or cabbage salad in German. Slaw is also a cooking technique. I have posted a few cole slaw recipes in this blog that do not require cabbage. Jicama slaw is one of the most refreshing tropical cole slaws that there is! On a sandwich, jicama slaw adds an apple flavored cold sauerkraut kind of flavor.
Regular German reuben sauce or thousand island dressing seemed like it would not be appealing on this Cuban Ruben Special sandwich. The papaya mustard that I had at Jean Georges Steak House at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas seemed like a winner for this sandwich, but I had no papaya on hand. Sun dried tomatoes have a zesty flavor that caribbean islanders like. German mustard was the original German style reuben sauce. So, why not make a sun dried tomato mustard? The flavor of this sun dried tomato mustard sauce goes incredibly well with ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese and jicama slaw!
For islanders or anybody that works in a steaming hot humid tropical restaurant kitchen, a heavy grilled sandwich that is saturated with butter, like a German reuben, is not an appealing sight to see. A Cuban style sandwich that is dry grilled and pressed flat under weight with no butter is much more appealing in tropical heat!
This Cuban Ruben Special sandwich will fool the taste buds! If your eyes are closed, and you take that first bite, the taste buds will say "Hey! This is a great tasting reuben sandwich!" This sandwich recipe is not simply the Cuban Reuben that made with corned beef, swiss cheese and sauerkraut with thousand island dressing on grilled pressed Cuban bread that many unimaginative chefs have posted recipes for on the internet. This Cuban Ruben Especial is a one of a kind sandwich that has a complex reuben flavor with no German style reuben ingredients!
As a top Michelin star rated chef, you are required to "think outside of the box!" My Cuban Ruben Especial sandwich creation is an instant classic that does not stray too far from the original Cuban sandwich's ingredients.
Cuban Roasted Pork Recipe:
It is easier to slow roast a large piece of pork than a small one. So, there will be an excess of roasted pork in this recipe. Simply make more Cuban sandwiches, because nobody can eat just one!
Place 1 large handful of thin sliced onion on a roasting pan.
Add 4 whole garlic cloves.
Place a 12 to 16 ounce piece of pork shoulder roast on the onions.
Place 1 handful of thin sliced onion on top of the pork.
Drizzle a small amount of vegetable oil over the pork and onions.
Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Season with 2 to 3 pinches of cumin.
Slow roast the pork in a 275 degree oven, till the pork is fully cooked and till the onions and garlic become caramelized.
Allow the roast pork to rest and cool.
Thin slice the roast pork. 4 to 6 ounces of roast pork are needed per sandwich.
Sun Dried Tomato Mustard Recipe:
This is a simple easy to make mustard sauce that is coarse and not as refined as a fine puree style sun dried tomato mustard sauce. To make the finer style sauce, simmer the completed sun dried tomato mustard with 1/2 cup of dry white wine, till it reduces to the original consistency. Then press the mustard sauce through a fine mesh sieve.
Boil 2 cups of water in a small sauce pot.
Add 4 sun dried tomato halves.
Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
Simmer till the sun dried tomatoes become soft and reconstituted.
Remove the sun dried tomatoes from the liquid and place them on a cutting board.
Very finely mince the tomatoes.
Place the tomatoes in a small bowl.
Add 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard.
Stir the ingredients together.
Jicama Cole Slaw Recipe:
Place 1 handful of very thin julienne sliced peeled jicama into a mixing bowl.
Add 6 to 8 chopped cilantro leaves.
Add a few very thin julienne sliced carrot strips.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.
Toss the ingredients together.
Allow the slaw to marinate for 5 minutes.
Cuban Ruben Especial Recipe:
Split a 6" to 8" long piece of Cuban bread in half. (Cuban bread is the same as a milk fortified French baguette recipe and the bread has a very thin crispy light colored crust.)
Place a few thin slices of swiss cheese one half of the bread.
Spread the sun dried tomato mustard over the cheese.
Place 2 ounces of thin sliced smoked ham on the cheese and sauce.
Place 4 to 6 ounces of the thin sliced Cuban roasted pork on the ham.
Place a generous amount of the jicama slaw on the pork.
Place a few thin slices of swiss cheese over the jicama slaw.
Place the top half of the bread on the sandwich.
Place the sandwich on a dry seasoned panini grill or a regular griddle set to 275 degrees.
Press the sandwich flat with the top of the panini grill or press the sandwich flat with an aluminum foil wrapped brick, if you use a regular griddle.
Cook the sandwich till it becomes hot, toasted crisp and till the cheese melts.
Place the sandwich on a cutting board and cut it in half.
Place the Cuban Ruben Especial on a plate.
Garnish with cilantro sprigs and a dill gherkin pickle.
Close your eyes and pretend this sandwich is a reuben! That what this island style modified classic Cuban sandwich tastes like, even though there are no German reuben ingredients on this sandwich. This is a very tasty modern Cuban Ruben Especial sandwich creation! Yum Mon! ... Shawna