Cuban Style Pork Tenderloin
For the tenderloin itself, combine the following to make a marinade: 4 cloves of garlic, minced (or you can pierce the meat with a knife and instead of mincing the garlic you can simply cut each clove in half and push a piece into each opening…the garlic flavour will be absorbed into the meat); ½ cup lime juice, 1 cup orange juice, 1 T. oregano, 2 tsp. ground cumin, salt, and pepper. Marinate the meat (about a 2 lb. pork tenderloin) in this mixture for about 4 hours (or overnight). You might want to pierce the meat in a few locations to allow the marinade to be absorbed in more readily. (Note: One of my favourite ways to marinate meat is in the freezer. Place all the ingredients in a freezer bag. Add the meat and kind of swish it around so that it’s fully coated. Place this in the freezer until ready to use. The meat will marinate in the freezer just as it would in the refrigerator, although more slowly. This way when you are ready to cook, the meat is already pre-marinated and you are good to go! I do this with chicken wings, ribs, chicken breasts, and more!).
I based my recipe on one that I saw demonstrated on The Martha Stewart Show. Since then, I have also seen a version done by Rachael Ray that is similar but has a couple of key differences. You can use the same marinade I have listed here, but Rachael adds 1 large minced onion to it and she heats it up in a skillet prior to using it. Place this meat in a roasting pan and cook at 325 degrees F. for about 40 minutes. It should reach an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees F. If you are planning on serving some of this roast as is for a meal prior to using the leftovers for the sandwiches, it can be really tasty served over rice or noodles or you can add cut up potatoes and carrots, for example, to the roasting pan and cook them alongside the roast for a delicious meal as well. Of course, you have a fairly low cooking temperature and cooking time so you will need to cut up the vegetables that you choose small enough so that they will be cooked through in time.
Now to assemble the sandwiches themselves: In the recipes I have seen, they have called for a sandwich press for making these. I don’t own a sandwich press and I haven’t decided if it’s worth the investment…not the financial investment as I have seen them under $10 but the space investment. I am trying to pare down the kitchen appliances and gadgets I have and to keep only the ones that I truly use on a regular basis. You can rig up your own version of a sandwich press with a few simple materials. I have seen it done by placing a second skillet on top of the sandwiches in the first skillet and weighting it down in some way (using a cast iron skillet on top helps with the weight, plus you can add something like a brick to it for more weight). I have also seen it done without the second skillet on top and simply taking something like a brick (which will hold up to the heat and add weight), wrapping it in foil, and placing that on top of the sandwich.
Personally, when my daughter and I had the urge to try these sandwiches the first time, we really didn’t have anything around that we could use to make a sandwich press nor did we feel like going to all the trouble of finding those items, so we just ate them as regular sandwiches. They were delicious and we have continued having that way ever since! To make your sandwich, ideally you will want Cuban bread but I sure couldn’t find any of that in London, Ontario so a good substitute is either French or Italian bread (especially if using the sandwich press). If not pressing the sandwich, I have found that any nice crusty roll is really yummy with these sandwich fillings. I would love to experiment some more with this sandwich by using a flour tortilla to make it wrap style or piling it on some kind of flatbread.
Now for the assembly of the sandwich: If you are pressing the sandwiches, it can be really nice to butter the insides of the bread or bun you are using for the sandwiches. I skip the butter because I don’t care for buttered sandwiches most of the time and I don’t need the extra fat and calories. I do like some spicy mustard on this sandwich though! Now layer on some Swiss cheese, followed by a portion of the pork tenderloin, some ham (I think Black Forest ham works best on this), some sliced dill pickles, and a little more Swiss cheese. Serve as is or brush the outsides of the sandwich with butter and place in the sandwich press over medium high heat. Grill the sandwiches for about 5 minutes. You want it heated all the way through and for the cheese to get all melty and gooey. Serve!