See the list of all Jason Murphy’s recipes at www.mysaline.com/jason-murphy.
The humble sandwich. It was my go to lunch for many years. Needless to say, my lunch was also incredibly boring at times. When I began my current lifestyle, mass produced sliced bread was just not going to work with my diet and fitness goals. Even the so-called healthy wheat breads were full of oils, sugars, and questionable preservatives. So I went without sandwiches, or they became an elaborate meal that involved baking an alternative to mega-mart loaves.
I had an urge for a Cubano this week, a decidedly not boring sandwich. Nothing other than actual bread would do. I had noticed several low-carb or “keto” options lately, and this would be a great excuse to try them. One look at the ingredients and the carb count per slice was enough to make me put the loaves back on the shelf and walk away without a backwards glance.
Most were 16 to 18 grams of carbs per slice, and a sandwich requires two to tango, which was more than my abs would allow. Then I found a brand of keto hotdog buns, and that’s 16 grams per bun. The ingredient list wasn’t all that weird either, and they felt soft in the package. The Cuban sandwich was a go. They tasted like regular buns, and I noticed no ill effects from eating them. It’s a good option to have in the toolkit:
The traditional Cubano has braised pork and sliced ham as the meats of choice, but I had neither the time nor the money to buy a pork shoulder to slow cook all day. Besides, this was a sandwich born of Cuban immigrants, and they were and are a people of adaptation. I had chicken breasts on hand, so a mojo marinated chicken breast would have to tag-team in for the braised pork.
The original name in Cuba was The Mixto, literally “mixed sandwich, so any mix of meats and cheeses would do. I feel Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III, or Desi Arnaz as you might better know him, would have approved. Of course, Lucy and Ricky lived in New York City, a long way from the immigrant workers in Key West and Tampa that made these sandwiches popular, so who knows if he even ate them.
The people of Cuba have a culture of helping each other, making use of limited resources, and being resilient. The car culture is a great example. Faced with the U.S.embargo in 1962, all car imports stopped. Today, the streets of Havana look like a living museum of 1950’s car history. They keep the antiques running by swapping parts, fabricating metalwork, and integrating items together that were never designed to do so, or intended to function so long.
I think using chicken because that was what was on hand at the time fits the spirit. This sandwich also has a film to help get you in the mood for it. If you haven’t seen the 2014 film “Chef” with Jon Favreau and John Leguizamo, it’s worth a watch and will definitely have you craving one by the end.
Cubano’s are pressed to be thin and melt together. If you don’t have a press, no problem. We will adapt much like keeping a ’57 Chevy running without an Autozone nearby. I don’t have one either, but I do have a heavy cast iron skillet, and that presses just as well as a uni-tasker appliance.
The citrus mojo marinade with fresh orange and lime brings a tropical flavor to the party, and smells delicious when making it. I used an assembly line approach to make several sandwiches at once, thinking I would have a quick and tasty lunch sorted for the next week.
Sadly, when you make something that tastes this good, there are no leftovers, even when you make eight – count ’em – eight sandwiches. If you’ve never had a Cubano, you are in for a treat, If you have, enjoy a different take on it with marinated grilled chicken. To the people that brought this meal with them and made it what it is today, se los agradezco.
Cubano chicken sandwich:
4 – 6 free range chicken breasts
1 package keto hotdog buns
Sliced ham – nitrate free
1/2 cup Spicy mustard
1/4 cup avocado oil mayo
grass fed butter for grilli
2 cloves garlic minced
Zest and juice of one orange
Zest and juice of one lime
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade:
Use a mandolin slicer to slice your pickles thin if you didn’t buy pre-sliced ones. Cut your hotdog buns in half and arrange them on a large cutting board to prep. Mix the mustard and mayo together in a bowl and use a spatula to apply to all the bun halves, then break each slice of swiss cheese into fourths and cover both buns:
Top the sandwich with the other bun and press down to make sure they don’t fall apart. Stick a slab of butter on a fork and run over the same griddle used to cook the ham. Lay the sandwiches down and cover with a 12 inch cast iron skillet, or use a sandwich press if you are all fancy-like. Cook for a few minutes until brown, flip, and repeat:
Serve with jicama fries and enjoy: