NFL Dolphins Menu: Cuban Ham Sammy

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It’s stereotype time! And that means Cuban-inspired food for a Dolphins game. This menu option features a Cuban ham sandwich, black beans, and white rice. Use rum for whatever drink concoction you prefer.

Here’s the deal with Cuban food: It’s straight-forward BBQ but with a bit of an island vibe as well. You’ll use familiar spices such as onion and garlic, but you add in some citrus (orange, lime) too. And coconut flavored rum, such as the Malibu brand. Nothing that  requires you to spend $30 in the spice aisle because Football Foodie is all about good fun that doesn’t cost a lot. 

Video of the meal prep is at the end of this post, but here’s the text version first:

Recipe Items:

1. Sliced ham and pre-cooked pulled pork, in the refrigerated deli section.
2. Provolone or Munster or Swiss or Pepper Jack cheese (your choice), sliced
3. Veggies & Fruit: 1 whole white onion, minced garlic, 1 lime, 1 orange
4. White Rice, use the Minute Rice…takes 5 minutes to make
5. 1 can of Bush’s Black Bean Fiesta brand/style of black beans
6. Bread: I used Ciabata buns, you can use bread of your choice
7. Yellow mustard, dill pickles (the chip style you put on burgers)
8.) 1 jar of Sofrito sauce or a can of salsa casera (found in the Hispanic food aisle)

A Word About The Shopping List:
A lot of those items you probably already have in your pantry at home. This is a fairly large list of items, but it’s still a good value because this will make enough for 2+ people OR a single person can have lots of leftovers to snack on later in the week. I purchased the deli ham, pulled pork (Oscar Meyer’s “Carving Board” brand, pre-cooked, found in deli meat section), veggies & fruits, can of black beans, Ciabata buns—you can substitute hoagie rolls or use pita bread, Texas Toast, or whatever you have on-hand already—and small can of salsa casera for about $13. The other items I already had on-hand.

Preparing The Ham and Pulled Pork:
On a cutting board, take your large knife and coarsely chop the ham and pulled pork. Don’t dice it too fine, just enough to break it up into bite-sized chunks about the size of a quarter. The amount of meat is your choice. The way I did it, the package of ham and package of pulled pork would make about 4 sandwiches.

Preparing The Marinade:
Combine all your marinade ingredients into one bowl. The marinade contains: 1/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of sliced white onion, juice of 1 small-to-medium sized lime, juice of 1 orange, and 1 tablespoon each of minced garlic and cocunut-flavored rum, and 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning (oregano, basil, rosemary spice mix found in spice aisle). This marinade would be good for two sandwiches. Increase marinade portions if you are planning on preparing more than two sandwiches.

Assembling The Meat and Marinade Into A Ziploc Bag:
Put meat and marinade into a ziploc bag. Toss and jostle to mix the contents well. Then, marinate the ham, pulled pork, and sliced onions in a plastic ziploc bag 2 hours before preparing the meal. Don’t marinade longer than 2 hours because the acid in the lime and orange will break down meat if left together too long. FACT: You can “cook” raw shrimp and thinly sliced raw fish just by soaking it in lime juice overnight…the acid in the lime literally cooks the seafood over time, and this is what we know as “ceviche” when you see it on the menu at waterfront restaurants or other Mexican food restaurants. We’re shooting for flavor infusion and not a vigorous marinading experience here.

Cooking The Rice, Black Beans, and Your Cuban Ham Sandwiches:
1.) In a small pot, simmer the Bush’s Black Bean Fiesta on medium-low so that the beans warm slowly. Too much heat and the beans will scorch on the bottom of the pot, so be smart and stir every so often to keep beans on the bottom from scorching. This ought to take you about 10 minutes to get the beans good and warm. Reduce heat to LOW or WARM once the beans reach a good temperature.

2.) As soon as you put your black beans into the pot to start them on their way, in a second pot you need to make your Minute Rice—Save some of the marinade from the ziploc bag, if you can, because we’re using it for two more steps later on! To make the rice, you will boil the water first, add then add the rice into the boiling water. Once you add that rice into the pot, remove the pot from heat—completely—and cover the pot with a lid…the steam from the enclosed pot will cook and fluff the rice. This takes 5 minutes. It’s fool-proof. Even a Titans fan get this right. ;)

3.) While both steps 1 and 2 are going on, make your Cuban ham sammies. You can grill your ham and pulled pork if you want, or you can choose to let the George Foreman grill do the work when we “press the sandwich” at the end of the sandwich preparation.

My Chosen Method Of Ham & Pork:

FYI: DON’T put the whole bag of meat and marinade into the skillet! You want all the meat and veggies and literally NONE of the marinade in your skillet. Too much marinade in the skillet means you’ll boil your meat rather than stir-fry it…the more liquid, the harder it will be to get a char on your meat and veggies. I seriously reached into the ziploc, grabbed a fistful of meat and veggies and squeezed as much liquid out of it as I could before tossing it into the skillet.

I chose to take my marinaded ham and pulled pork and toss it into a skillet with some marinaded sliced onions and a tiny amount of the marinade sauce (since the ham and pulled-pork were both pre-cooked, there’s no risk of food poisoning here). I also added a few thin slices of hot pepper (serrano or jalapeno work well). Not everybody is a fan of those add-ons, so I mention them here for those who might like to get jiggy with some extra stuff in this recipe. All this stuff is then quickly stir-fried and scorched so that it blends together and has a “street cart” char on it. Set your stovetop burner to medium-high for this step, and stand over it and use a spatula to move the items around as it stir fries in the skillet. That’s why it’s called STIR fry: You have to stand there or it’ll burn if you turn your back on it.

In Case You Don’t Know How To Make A Damn Sandwich:
A very light coat of spray butter on each side of the bread helps it toast up when doing this next step, by the way. OK, so now you need to throw some mustard on the bread, then add the ham and all the stir-fried goodies that have stuck to the diced ham, then a few pickle chips, then the sliced cheese and the second piece of bread caps it all off. Place the sandwich in a George Foreman grill and press down fairly hard until the cheese is melted and oozing out. You can use an electric skillet, or a stove-top skillet, and basically the idea is to make a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Smashing the sandwich doesn’t do anything more than just making it thinner and ensuring that your melted cheese helps to bind and hold all the other stuff (ham, pork, pickles) together inside the bread.

Final Prep Step For The Rice:
4.) Remember the rice? Add some Sofrito or salsa casera to the rice, and add some marinade to the rice too if you have any left over. This is going to give your rice a nice infusion of flavor that pairs really well with the black beans. Don’t go too crazy, because you don’t want runny, watery rice. But also don’t add too little or you won’t have any flavor. Add and mix and taste, and you’ll get it to your liking.

Final Thoughts & Drink Ideas:
You’ve now got a pressed Cuban ham sandwich, flavorful white rice, and a jazzed up black bean dish that really makes a nice meal for the game. Rum and Coca-Cola is a good drink an easy to make, and I suggest Malibu coconut-flavored rum when making Rum and Coke. The new drink sensation is the Mojito, and it uses rum as well. Red Stripe is a good beer to use with Island-style BBQ because Red Stripe is a spice-infused beer from Jamaica, which helps accentuate the spice-infused Cuban BBQ sandwich and rice & beans.

A great source for Cuban cuisine, a site I sourced for the making of this recipe, is found at University of Miami’s website HERE.

Dolphins Game 2013: Cuban Ham Sandwich from Football Foodie on Vimeo.

Tags: Dolphins