Perhaps it's because now that my handsome grill pan is finally where it belongs (permanently fixed atop my stove), I can't help but want to use it as often as I can. So while thinking about what to put together for this week's weekend dinner party, I couldn't help but default to how I could incorporate the usage of my new favorite kitchen "tool." That said, we're going to turn the grill pan into a panini press. Because we're throwing down with some Cubans.
Cuban sandwiches that is. But by all means, invite your Cuban friends over too. Hopefully they won't pick apart the lack of authenticity too much. Because if you couldn't tell by now, I'm not of Cuban descent. Gonna shut up now. Moving right along.
mojitos or cuba libres
pineapple with rum and mint over coconut ice cream
There are so many different ways you can go with the Cuban sandwiches: Ham, Pork, Swiss, Pickles, Yellow Mustard (or Dijon), Mayo (or no mayo), Mojo (garlic) sauce (or no mojo sauce). So as per usual, I'm just going to advise you go for the combo that best suits your palate. If you're not up for roasting your own pork loin, I suggest searing a pork tenderloin (marinate it in orange and lime juice, garlic, and olive oil for as long as you'd like) and finishing it off in the oven for a few minutes. It'll be done, start to finish (minus marinating time) in about 15 minutes. No big deal at all. Let it rest, then thinly slice it and it's ready for sandwich assembly (along with thinly sliced deli ham, thinly sliced swiss, pickles, and your choice of dressings). Find some soft, long hoagie-type rolls and get to building. Then lightly grease the grill pan lay them on top and place a heavy cast iron skillet, weighed down with a can or two on top and let them crisp up and lovingly melt the cheese (about 3 or 4 minutes per side). Here's a really basic recipe as a guideline.
Plantain chips? You can buy these. I suggest you buy them. You won't see me hovering over a huge pot of frying oil any time soon. I'm schvitzing enough as it is just standing still in this humidity.
Avocado salad. Slice some perfectly ripe avocados, lay them over some torn iceberg lettuce, along with thinly sliced red onion, and thick slices of tomato. Squeeze some lime juice on top, a little drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. That's not a recipe. That's common sense.
And dessert? Pick up a container of cubed pineapple (it's Summer, let's make things easy), dump them into a bowl, splash a little (or a lot) of some good, dark Cuban Rum on top and add some chopped fresh mint. Let this sit for as long as you'd like. Then spoon the drunken fruit on top of some coconut ice cream (or sorbet) and laugh. Just laugh. This is a crazy, stupid, hilariously good spread.