Friday, March 21, 2014

Pressure Cooker Pork

I love pork.  Pork tacos, Cuban sandwiches, pork salad from Cafe Rio, name it, I LOVE it!  Alex LOVES Cuban sandwiches and I wanted to surprised him with a yummy Cuban sandwich panini when he got home for work the other day.  I have always failed miserably when making the pork for Cuban sandwiches so I was more than a little worried.  To make matters worse, I was running behind on getting the meal ready and didn't have time to put the meat in the crock pot.  ENTER Pressure Cooker!  I'm not kidding you, if you don't own a pressure cooker...GET ONE!!!!  My parents had one growing up and they only ever made potatoes in it for potato salad (?), so I had NO IDEA you could cook meat, beans, desserts (!) in it until I bought my own (thinking I needed it to make potato salads...really!) that came with a cook book with tons of recipes in it.  I didn't get this recipe from that book, but from Tyler Florence.

Tyler is all about the Ultimate this... or the Ultimate that...  I even own his Ultimate cookbook and have been so-so about his clams of being Ultimate.  That is, until NOW!!!  This pork recipe is the BEST I HAVE EVER MADE AT HOME!!!  That is saying a LOT because I have made more recipes than I care to think about and I can never get that just right taste or the fall apart texture that is so yummy.  In fact, I almost missed the mark with the texture on these tacos, but cooked them a little longer in the pressure cooker and VOILA!  KICK ASS pork!  

1 pound boneless pork shoulder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed with the side of your knife
1/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 lime, juiced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 long Cuban bread roll
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
8 thin slices Swiss cheese
1 cup bread and butter pickles
8 thin slices deli ham
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Begin by braising the pork shoulder. Tie the shoulder in 4 places with kitchen twine so it will hold its shape while being cooked or ask your butcher to do this for you. Season the pork with salt, pepper, cumin and oregano. Set the base of a pressure cooker over low-medium heat and add a 2 count of olive oil.

Add garlic and chili flakes and as the oil heats up it will become fragrant and infuse the oil. Add the pork. Add onions around the pork and brown slightly before adding orange juice, lime juice, stock and bay leaves.

Secure the lid of the pressure cooker and cook for 20 to 25 minutes depending on the size of your pressure cooker. The pork should be tender when done. When done allow to cool in juices before removing twine and slicing.

To prepare Cuban sandwiches, split bread in half then layer the sandwich with mustard, cheese, pickles, ham, pork then cheese again (the cheese glues everything together). Season with salt and pepper in between the ham and pork layers. (Optional: drizzle a little of the pork braising liquid over the meat as well).

To cook, heat a large cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium heat and lightly coat with olive oil. Place the sandwiches on the skillet and top with another heavy skillet and a couple of heavy weights (bricks, or cans of tomatoes work well). Press down firmly and cook for 5 to 7 minutes per side until the sandwich has compressed to about a third of its original size and the bread is super-crispy. Serve with beans, rice and plantain chips.

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