Mojo Pork Sandwiches

While I was in Tampa for a conference a few years ago a friend and I walked to lunch after the morning session.  We ended up at a sports bar near the convention center called Hattrick’s.  The place had a bustling lunch crowd – a good sign.  I chose to order a Cuban roasted pork sandwich with mojo sauce, and it was incredible!

Mojo Pork Sandwich

The sandwich was so good that I went back to Hattrick’s before leaving town to get another.  The following Easter I set out to make my own version of this sandwich – I wanted to eat pork but I certainly wasn’t cooking a ham for only two people.  By adapting recipes and adding elements from the Hattrick’s sandwich, I perfected my own Mojo Pork Sandwich.

This is not your typical Cuban sandwich with ham, pork, swiss, and mustard.  For this sandwich, pork is roasted in mojo sauce, a Cuban citrus garlic sauce, then shredded (adapted from Three Guys from Miami).  Then the pork is piled on Cuban bread, topped with melted mozzarella, and paired with a garlic dipping sauce.  The results are mouth-watering!  I promise you’ll love my re-creation of this sandwich…

Mojo Pork Sandwiches

Prep Time: 45 minutes + 2-3 hours marinating time

Cook Time:  3-6 hours

Serves: 6

Ingredients

2 loaves Cuban Bread
6 slices Fresh Mozzarella
2 lb. Pork Shoulder (or other boneless roast)
10-15 cloves Garlic
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Peppercorns
1/2 c. Orange Juice
1/4 c. Lime Juice
1/4 c. Lemon Juice
1 c. minced Onion
2 tsp. Oregano
1/2 c. Olive Oil
Garlic Dipping Sauce
2-3 cloves Garlic
1/4 c. Olive Oil
1/4 c. Orange Juice
2 tbsp. Lime Juice
2 tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 tbsp. Vinegar
Salt
Pepper

1.  Start by making the mojo sauce: Mash the garlic, salt, and peppercorns into a paste using a mortar and pestle.  Depending on the size of your mortar you may have to do this in two batches.

Note: The variable number of garlic cloves is to account for the size of the cloves.  If your head of garlic has nice big cloves, you can probably stop at 10.  If the cloves are smaller you may want to use up to 15.

Stir in the orange, lemon, and lime juices along with the onion and oregano then allow to sit at least 30 minutes.

Mojo Sauce

2.  Set aside about a quarter cup of the mojo sauce for later.

3.  Now it’s time to make the marinade for the roast.  We’re going to do this by simply adding oil to our remaining mojo sauce.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, remove from the heat and whisk in the sauce.

Marinade

4.  Pierce the pork roast all over with a fork (to help the marinade penetrate the meat).  Pour the marinade over the roast and allow the marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours, turning halfway through.

5.  After the roast is through marinating, put the pork and marinade in a crockpot and cook on high for 2 hours.  Then turn the heat down to low and cook until the meat shreds easily with a fork (up to 4 more hours).  The cook time will vary based on the size and dimensions of your roast.

Tip: If you want to speed up the cooking process, cut the roast into 2-3 chunks before cooking.

6.  When the roast is almost done, make the garlic dipping sauce: Combine the garlic, olive oil, and vinegar in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  With the blade running, gradually pour in the juice to make an emulsion.  To finish, season with salt and pepper.

This will make excess sauce.  The leftovers can be stored in the fridge up to a couple weeks.  Just make sure you let it come up to room temperature and run it through a blender to re-emulsify before serving.

The sauce is not critical but adds another dimension of flavor.  If you’re not a garlic lover, you skip the sauce and still have a delicious sandwich!

Garlic Sauce

7.  Shred the pork (I use two forks) and drizzle with the mojo sauce you set aside earlier.  If the pork still doesn’t seem moist enough to you, you can add some of the cooking juice, just try to avoid the oil floating at the top.

Pull Pork

8.  Cut your Cuban bread into sandwich-size pieces then halve the pieces.  Top with shredded pork, packing it down to keep it from falling off.

Looking for something to do with those bread heels?  I’ll admit, I usually just eat mine (the bread’s THAT good), but it’s also great with soup.  Check out our**FIX** Butternut Squash Soup, Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, or Lasagna Soup for ideas…

Put Pork on Bread

9.  Top with a slice of fresh mozzarella and cook under the broiler until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown lightly.  Keep an eye on the bread because it toasts faster than the cheese melts – you may have to pull out the sandwich tops before the bottoms.

Melt Mozzarella

10.  Close the sandwich and you’re ready to dig in!

Mojo Pork Sandwich

Serve with the garlic dipping sauce and a side.  I like to pair it with chips or a potato dish – fries or our Perfect Oven-Roasted Potato Wedges.  Leftovers reheat well and make a great packed lunch.  Enjoy!

Mojo Pork Lunch

Sesame Noodles with Asparagus

I’m gotten very good about getting veggies into my dinners, but I don’t do as well with lunch – so I’ve been trying to incorporate vegetables into my midday meals more often.  Quick and easy, this dish is ideal for lunch.  It’s also a great dinner option on a busy evening.  Made with whole wheat buckwheat noodles, asparagus, and tofu, this meal is light and healthy… and, best of all, delicious!

Sesame Noodles

This recipe is adapted from Deborah Madison’s sesame noodle recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone – a wonderful cookbook if you’re trying to get more vegetables in your diet or cut back on your meat consumption.  I liked the dressing she used for her noodles, but I chose to use soba noodles because A) they’re whole wheat and therefore healthier, and B) I like them.  I also added grilled tofu to make this a more filling dish.  Finally, I turned this into a hot dish rather than a cold one.  It may be traditional to serve sesame noodles cold, but I don’t care for cold pasta.  I hope you enjoy my version of this dish!

Sesame Noodles with Asparagus

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

6 oz. Teriyaki Baked Tofu
1 bundle Soba Noodles (~3 oz.)
1/2 bundle Asparagus (~10 stalks)
3 Green Onions
1 tbsp. Sesame Seeds
Sauce
1 tbsp. Sesame Oil
2 scant tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 scant tbsp. Black Vinegar
1 tbsp. Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Chili Oil
1 tsp. grated Ginger
1 small clove Garlic, minced

1.  Heat a grill pan over medium heat.

2.  While your pan is heating, wash and trim the asparagus and wash the green onions.  Slice the asparagus into 1 – 1 1/2″ lengths and thinly slice the green parts of the green onions.

3.  Once your pan is hot, grill your tofu.  Cook it long enough to get beautiful grill marks on both sides of your tofu and heat it through.

I use Wildwood’s Teriyaki Baked Tofu to cut down on the prep work for this dish, but you could marinate plain tofu in teriyaki sauce after it has been drained and pressed (see How to Make Tofu Edible).  Just make sure you give it a few hours to marinate so the flavor can penetrate the tofu.

Grilled Tofu

4.  While your tofu is cooking (or even while the grill pan is heating if you want to speed things up) begin bringing 2 pots of water to a boil – one small pot for the asparagus and one normal-sized pot for the soba noodles.

5.  Whisk together the sauce ingredients.

Sesame Sauce

6.  Once your water is boiling, cook asparagus for 3 minutes then drain.  Cook the soba according to the package directions (~4 minutes) and drain.

Note: I call for “one bundle” of soba noodles.  The noodles I buy come in a plastic bag with three wrapped bundles inside, but I’m not sure how other soba brands are packaged.  The package I buy is 9.5 oz. so that would be a little over 3 oz. per bundle.

7.  While the noodles are cooking, slice your tofu into bite-sized pieces.

8.  Return the noodles to the pot (off the heat) and add the asparagus, green onions, sauce, and almost all the sesame seeds and mix to combine.

Mix Together

9.  Plate your noodles, top with tofu slices, and finish with the remaining sesame seeds.

Sesame Noodles

You’ll love how quick and easy it is to make this guilt-free dish, but most of all, you’ll love how it tastes!

Beecher’s Grilled Cheese

Is there anything more comforting on a cold day than a gooey grilled cheese with a crisp, buttery crust?  This is my favorite fall or winter lunch.  It’s cheesy and satisfying and guaranteed to warm you up!

Beecher's Grilled Cheese

Thinking of grilled cheese always takes me back to my childhood.  I mean, who didn’t love grilled cheese as a kid?!  Of course, my childhood grilled cheese was a little different than this one.  My mom made our grilled cheese with American cheese and whole wheat bread (I’m so thankful she wouldn’t feed us Wonderbread!) and cooked it in the toaster oven.

I loved my mom’s grilled cheese growing up, but as I’ve aged, my tastes have matured.  This more “adult” version of grilled cheese uses high-quality cheese and homemade bread (Sourdough or a bolillo would be a good substitute if you don’t want to make your own).  The aioli adds a gourmet touch, and bacon – as I’ve mentioned before – makes almost everything better.  I hope you enjoy my version of this comfort food favorite!

Beecher’s Grilled Cheese

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Cook Time: 5-10 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

4 slices Rustic Bread
Aioli
2 slices Bacon
3/4 – 1 c shredded Beecher’s Flagship Cheese
Butter, slightly softened

Ingredients

1.  Cook your bacon in a skillet or griddle until it’s crisp then drain on paper towels.  Once the bacon has cooled, roughly chop it.

2.  Now, it’s time to assemble your grilled cheese.  Start by spreading a little aioli on the insides of the bread.  Then place half the chopped bacon on one side of the sandwich.

Bacon and Aioli

3.  Top the bacon with half the cheese, pressing down to help pack the cheese into the sandwich so it won’t fall off – don’t want to lose any of that delicious stuff!

Note: Beecher’s Flagship is a cheddar-gruyere blend.  If you can’t find Beecher’s Flagship at the store, you can substitute a 1:1 cheddar to gruyere blend.

Add Cheese

4.  Close the sandwich, pressing down again, and butter the top half of the bread.  Then repeat steps 2-4 for the other sandwich.

5.  Preheat a panini press to medium-high heat.  Flip your sandwiches onto the panini press (so the buttered side is down) and then butter the top side of the bread.

6.  Close the panini press and cook your sandwich until the bread is golden and crisp.  Keep an eye on your sandwiches to make sure they don’t start leaking cheese!

Grilled to Golden

I know it will be hard, but let that bad boy cool down a few minutes before biting into it.  It won’t lose any of its wonderful flavor, but if you burn your tongue on molten cheese, you won’t be able to fully enjoy it (or your next few meals).  Once it has cooled slightly, you are ready to tear into the warm, cheesy goodness of this sandwich!  I like to cut mine on a diagonal and serve with chips, sweet potato fries (I like Alexia’s Sweet Potato Waffle Fries), or our Perfect Oven-Roasted Potato Wedges.  Or, for a classic combo, you could pair it with your favorite tomato soup.  Enjoy!

Beecher's Grilled Cheese

Indian-Spiced Ground Beef

This Indian-Spiced Ground Beef, from The World’s Greatest-Ever Curries by Mridula Baljekar, is a regular in my recipe rotation.  It’s relatively easy to make, uses ingredients I keep on hand, and has tons of flavor.  Plus, it functions as a lunch or dinner dish.

Indian-Spiced Ground Beef

Indian-Spiced Ground Beef

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

3/4 tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp. grated Fresh Ginger
1 Thai Chili, finely chopped
12 oz. Ground Beef (or lamb)
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1/2 tsp. Ground Coriander
1/2 tsp. Chili Powder (I use Extra-hot Chili Powder)
1/2 tsp. Salt
5/8 c. Water
3/4 c. Frozen Corn, thawed (You can also use peas)
1 tbsp. Lemon Juice
Fresh Cilantro
Plain Yogurt (I use fat-free Greek Yogurt)

1.  Heat oil over medium heat then saute onions for 5 minutes.

2.  Add the garlic, ginger, and chiles and cook 2-3 minutes.  Thai chiles pack some heat, so if you’re not accustomed to spice, you may want to use less of the chili the first time you make this dish.  In my experience, the orange and red Thai chiles are spicier than the green.

(Note: If, like me, you use the grated ginger that comes in a jar, wait to add it until you add the spices in step 4.  The jarred ginger has a higher sugar content and will stick to the bottom of the pan if you add it this early.)

3.  Add the ground beef and cook until the red color is gone.  I always use grass-fed beef.  It’s better for you, better for the cow, and, most importantly, has better flavor.

Add Ground Beef

4.  Stir in the cumin, coriander, chili powder, and salt.  (Tip: If you decide to use extra-hot chili powder, keep in mind that when it’s first opened the spice is strongest.  If you’re opening a brand new jar, you may want to add less than the amount called for to avoid guzzling water.)

Then add the water, cover the pan, and turn to medium-low heat to simmer for 25 minutes.

5.  Add your corn and lemon juice then cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  You may be surprised at the use of corn this dish.  The original recipe called for peas.  However, eating peas was horrible as a child, and I still haven’t gotten over the aversion.  So I use corn which also gives that sweet crunch.  Feel free to use peas if that’s more to your taste.

The liquid in the pan should have evaporated at the end of the 10 minutes.  To finish, garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

Indian-Spiced Ground Beef

To make this a dinner, serve with plain yogurt (to counteract the spiciness), Naan (check out our recipe), and a side.

This also makes a great lunch.  You can cook it the night before or over the weekend and store it in the refrigerator.  Then, at lunch, reheat the ground beef and serve it in a pita (pictured below) or wrap with plain yogurt on the side.  It’s so much more interesting, and satisfying, than a run-of-the-mill sandwich!

Ground Beef Pita