Mojo Pork & Quinlanos Sammies (SBQ, Ep. 23 & N#6)

The "Quinlano" sammich is Fode's love letter to the traditional Cubano, and to one of the most intriguing Jedi characters ever, Quinlan Vos.  In order to have a great Cuban sandwich, you really need mojo-marinated pork.  Mojo is a citrus-/garlic-based marinade, so we'll start this recipe by addressing the pig...

MojoPork

What you will need:

  • Pork Shoulder (Boston Butt is best, boneless if possible)
  • Mojo Marinade (find the recipe in the SEAS'NINS section of the GET TO COOKING tab!)
  • Hi-Quality Deli Ham, thin-sliced
  • Hi-Quality Deli Swiss, normal-sliced
  • Dill Sandwich Pickles/Pickle Coins
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Sourdough Italian Bread (long loaf) OR traditional Cuban Bread OR Any Crusty Baguette
  • Smoker/Slow-Cooker & Peach Wood
  • Plancha/Panini Press/Flat-Top Skillet and a Brick (f'real though, a brick)

How you do it:

  1. In a large mixing bowl or airtight zipper-bag, poke a gang of holes in your pork shoulder with a fork, and pour the mojo marinade all over.  The marinade should drown at least 3/4 of the meat, and you can use a spoon to layer some over the exposed area(s).  If the pork shoulder came tied in butcher twine (like a roast), you can leave the twine on.  Cover the mixing bowl OR seal the zipper-bag, and leave the pork in your refrigerator for at least 1 full day, and up to 4 days (rotating or re-submerging the meat every 12-16 hours for even coverage).
  2. If you're using an idiot-proof slow cooker (e.g. Crock-Pot), put your pork in with about 1" of the remaining mojo and set it for 6 hours on "Low".  If you're using an oven, use the same basting policy as a smoker/BBQ (step 3 below), but you won't have to watch temperature or coloration as closely as with a BBQ.
  3. If you're going to full-out BBQ like Fode, start your fire and get it heated to between 265-295 degrees-F.  (ALWAYS make sure the smoke billows out clear-blue, with very little white or gray running through it.  White or gray means there is not enough oxygen reaching your fire, and it will start to cool the cooker down and put a bitter taste into the meat.)  If you are using a lower temperature, you can place the pork closer to the fire in the cook chamber.  With a higher temperature, keep the pork farther away from the heat source so it doesn't turn black right away.
  4. Keep your temperature consistent and make sure to rotate the pork every 20-30 minutes.  When you rotate, you MUST also baste!  Alternate between leftover mojo poured over, and plain butter left on top to melt slowly.
  5. With diligence, the pork should begin taking on a dark amber color, with a nice even bark forming all around.  The bark should be darker brown, but not completely black.  If the pork blackens too much or burns, rotate that section away from the heat while cooking.  You can always cut away any part that is too burnt.
  6. After 4-5 hours, and when your meat thermometer (a total necessity for BBQ'g!) reads between 135-145 degrees-F, lay it whole in a foil pan and baste it one more time, then wrap it up nice and tight with foil and put it back on the smoker.  After another 15-20 minutes, the internal temp should now read between 165-175 degrees-F.  REMOVE it from the smoker and let it REST on the counter for at least 20 minutes before eating.
  7. Carve the pork into 1/4"-1/2" slices, or pull/shred it with a fork or fingers.  Either drop the pork back into the same foil pan with the liquid from cooking, OR pour the liquid over the pork in a different pan to keep it moist.  You can now ENJOY the pork as-is, or follow the NEXT STEPS for the "Quinlano" Cuban Sandwich!
Quinlano

SANDWICH:

  1. Using a large serrated bread knife, portion the baguette or Cuban loaf into 8-10" lengths, then slice each long-ways so you have a definite top and definite bottom.
  2. On the bottom slice of bread, put 1-2 layers of deli ham, 3-4 pickle slices, and 1-2 layers of Swiss cheese (depending on thickness).  Lay the pork down next, and since this is your main component in the sandwich, don't be shy!  This is really what makes a Cubano a Cubano, even if it's a Quinlano.  Spread a thin film of mustard onto the top slice of bread, and top the sandwich with it.  Without losing all of your pork, press the sandwich down with body weight.
  3. In a panini press or skillet/grill, melt a little butter over medium heat and literally flatten the sandwich as much as possible.  Get that first side golden or grill-marked up (2-3 minutes), then flip the sammie and repeat.  The sandwich should now appear to be almost half its original thickness, and all ingredients should be sort-of "stuck together" as one.
  4. Cut that bad boy on a severe diagonal to get that signature triangular look of a Cubano, and to get a hint on where to TAKE YOUR FIRST BITE!