In January, many of the restaurants in Ithaca experience a calming slow season. Some even close for extended periods of time, using the unfortunate lack of patrons as a perfectly good excuse to escape the cold, complete renovations or do some much needed deep cleaning. All good things. It also leaves those who work in the service industry with some well deserved r and r and many days free to hibernate from the harsh weather, stay in, watch movies, play in the kitchen, do puzzles and best of all, snuggle.
Chris and I found ourselves in the throes of one of these particularly blissful lazy days venturing out only to conjure what we would need for a good hot meal. Chris spends the majority of his time in a hot, loud and mad kitchen overseeing or cooking for the highest volume of any restaurant in Ithaca. It’s understandable that he rarely has the desire let alone the energy to cook at home. But when he does, it it always a treat. This evening we had come across a very good looking and healthy sized pork loin roast and some beautiful winter vegetables. He seared the pork loin and studded it with fresh rosemary and finished roasting it in the oven. He simply roasted the vegetables, Brussels sprouts, parsnips and carrots in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and made a mind-blowing ragout of beans, bacon and mushrooms to serve alongside. It was a filling and satisfying dinner and although we put a good hurtin’ on the amount of food he prepared, we were left with a substantial half of the pork loin roast to enjoy later or to repurpose for some intensely delicious homemade cuban style sandwiches.
The next day I gathered the necessary accoutrement: good bread*, ham, pickles, mustard, swiss cheese. For these particular sandwiches I also prepared a quick mojo sauce by whipping up a little store-bought mayo with fresh pasted garlic and the juice and zest of a lime plus salt and pepper. I also chose to use several mustards for these sammies making a quick blend of whole-grain, dijon and good ole’ yellow mustard.
*Searching Wegman’s for the perfect crusty sandwich roll for these proved to be an unsuccessful venture on this day so I went with Miche bread, but any bread you like will serve as a delicious vehicle for the contents inside. If you are sticking with tradition, however, either make them yourself *wink wink* or look for a good wide white sub roll.
To assemble the sandwiches I laid out two pieces of bread cut about 1/2 inch thick. I slathered one slice with the mustard blend and the other slice with a good amount of the mojo sauce. Atop the mojo-covered slice I arranged the pork loin which I sliced into as paper thin of slices as I could. Next came a slice of old fashioned off-the-bone ham, two slices of good lacy swiss cheese and homemade cucumber dill pickles that I had made in the summer. Top off with the mustard covered slice and you are ready to grill!
I cooked these sandwiches in the style of a grilled cheese but if you have a panini press, all the better. I heavily buttered a skillet over medium heat. When the buttered was melted and foamy, I added the sandwich to the pan and topped it with another heavy skillet and pressed the sandwich until the bottom was golden brown and crisped. I removed the sandwich from the pan and added another pat of butter to the skillet before flipping the sandwich and repeating the pressing procedure on the other side. Slice on a heavy bias and get ready to bite into a flavor vacation! A fla-cation!