This is the city that inspired the food craving that lasted for more than a year.
We don’t live far from Asheville… I’m not sure why we don’t drive there more often. Especially since there are amazing restaurants, delis, and cafes on every corner of this small city tucked into the North Carolina mountains. Most of them are independently run, have unique menus, and an overabundance of fresh ingredients. Over here all we have is an endless string of fast food restaurants, a Chinese buffet, and the most unauthentic, overpriced, blech version of an Italian restaurant that I have ever come across.
Dear Gas Prices,
Stop being absurd. People need to eat.
So anyway, my sister lives in Asheville, and whenever I go to visit she points me towards someplace she found that she knows to be mouth watering and delicious. Once we ate at a Thai place and shared a Pad Thai that knocked my socks off. Chad and I went to visit her last year and the three of us inhaled a pile of nachos that was both bottomless and crrrrazy good. Then there’s the Cuban restaurant.
Stephanie (that’s my sister) and I shared a late meal on the patio of Havana during one of my visits, and I have had a Cuban sandwich stuck in my head ever since. Chad and I tried to dine there the last time we went to Asheville, but there were 34,001 things going on downtown that weekend, and there was a wait. A loooong wait. We were starving, so I begrudgingly agreed to move on.
And still I craved the Cuban sandwich.
The December issue of Family Circle magazine saved the day! Pork Shoulder in the slow cooker 5 ways! But the only way I really cared about was Cuban Pork.
The way the article was written was a little hard to follow. It was meant to be simple, but I had to keep referring to the original recipe (chipotle mango pulled pork) and then “omit this” and “add that”. In my rush to get my Cuban sandwich show on the road, I left out what appeared to be a very key ingredient… chicken broth. But as my luck would have it, this was better without the broth (I know this because a day or so later I also made the creamy pork and mushroom sauce from this article WITH the chicken broth. TOO. MUCH. LIQUID. And it was greasy).
So anyway– craving satisfied. And ohhh man do you need to make these.
- For the Pork:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 pounds boneless skinless pork shoulder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 can tomato paste
- ½ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice (I juiced 2 limes)
- zest of 1 lime
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup diced pickles
- For the Sandwiches:
- sliced ham
- Swiss cheese
- yellow mustard
- thick slices of a soft bread (Cuban or Italian; I actually used BBQ pull-apart bread here and it worked really well)
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Season the pork with the salt and pepper and brown all sides until crispy and golden. Remove the pan from the heat.
- In the slow cooker stir together the tomato paste, orange juice, lime juice, lime zest, onions, and diced pickles (mixture will be thick).
- Set the browned pork on top of the sauce, cover and slow cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours.
- Remove the pork and shred. Add the sauce to taste.
- For the sandwiches, spread mustard on the bread and layer with the sliced ham, pickles, shredded pork and Swiss cheese. Grill the sandwiches (like you would a grilled cheese). Eat. Repeat.*
Adapted from Family Circle, December 2011