I have a confession to make. Some days I just want to run away and be a starving artist in some place beautiful and inspiring.
This feeling usually hits me about mid-week when I’m bogged down with work and life and Friday is just out of reach. I especially feel this way when it’s the middle of May and dreary and chilly (less than 60 degrees, in May, in the South, what?! Remind me that I was complaining about this when it’s sweltering in August).
On days like today I dream of warm places, filled with culture, interesting people, and of course great food.
Five years ago we visited Key West for the wedding of some very dear friends and absolutely fell in love with the laid back atmosphere. I often dream of warm, lazy days sitting on the porch, drinking, rum, and reading Hemingway with my pet cat.
Speaking of Hemingway, I’ve become slightly (okay maybe not so slightly) obsessed with him and his time in Key West since we visited there. After visiting his home and his stomping grounds I am completely fascinated with that time and way of island life.
My husband and I often talk about the day when we win the lottery and run away to Key West. We have a dream of opening a restaurant, cocktail lounge, and cigar bar combo that has just the right amount of class but still that not a care in the world vibe that would be the place that discerning “tourists” and locals would call home (or home away from home). This all means a lot of rum, international flavors, and all things Cuban of course.
A girl can dream, right?!
So when I’m missing Key West, I make myself a good Cuban Sandwich, shake up a classic daiquiri, and get lost in the world of The Old Man and the Sea. Maybe one day we’ll call that world home.
(makes 4-6 sandwiches)
1-2 pound pork roast or boneless pork ribs
Juice of one orange
Juice of one lemon
Juice of one lime
½ cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon paprika
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 small onion, chopped
Salt & pepper
½ pound deli ham
Bread & butter pickles (I prefer homemade but your favorite store bought is great too!)
For the pork: Put all of the ingredients for the pork in the bowl of a slow-cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Shred the pork for sandwiches. (Any leftover pork you have is great served over rice, with black beans, and some fried plantains!)
To assemble sandwiches:
Butter the outside of the Cuban rolls. Spread mustard on each half. Top one half with swiss cheese, a couple slices of ham, a good amount of pork (not too much or everything will fall out when you press it), and pickles. Top with the other half of the roll.
Press sandwiches on a panini press (or in a cast iron skillet topped with another heavy skillet) for 3-4 minutes until toasty and the cheese is melty.
Source: Ruth’s Table