Can you believe it’s almost Memorial Day weekend already? I really, really can’t. This year is already FLYING by. Is it because I have a child? I feel like everyone told me that time speeds up once you have a baby. I’m thinking they were right. Still, though. The end of May already? Crazypants.
Anyway. While Memorial Day is an important holiday for many, many reasons, I have to admit I do look forward to the extra day off from work and the food that inevitably fills the long weekend. It is the unofficial start of the summer, and that is always worth celebrating. I have big plans for this weekend. Except not really.
My husband and I purposely did not make grand plans for this long weekend. We’ve been so BUSY lately, and we decided that we needed some downtime with just our little family. I am looking forward to it for so many reasons. Our pool is open (albeit FREEZING), the grill has been shed of its winter cover, and the dogs have been more than happy to spend their days running around the backyard and lounging in the sun. As I try to focus through my pollen-induced haze, I too can say that I am ready for summer. It came quickly. But I am ready.
While burgers and hot dogs are usually on our Memorial Day weekend menu, this year, I’m opting for something a little different. Those big plans I was alluding to earlier? I meant in terms of FOOD. Duh. I’m thinking lots of margaritas, guacamole, chips and dip, maybe some grilled pizza. Oh yeah, and these sliders. Not only are they cute (!), they’re fan-friggin-tastic. I LOVE Cuban sandwiches. Citrusy spiced pork piled high with ham, cheese, pickles, and tangy mustard on bread that gets pressed to crispy perfection. They are definitely one of my favorite sandwiches.
To keep things a little easier on myself, I’ve opted to serve my Cubans as sliders and unpressed. And guess what? They’re just as delicious. I actually served these at my Mother’s Day brunch, and people flipped over them. They were unexpected but well received. My dad even asked for a few sandwiches to be wrapped to go.
The mojo marinade is perfect for summertime fare, which makes it perfect for Memorial Day weekend! It’s citrusy and light but still packs a punch. I think I like it so much because of all the cumin. It reminds me of tacos. Mojo pork tacos. Hmm. That’s something I may need to do soon.
While the pork requires a little planning (a 24-hour marinade sesh plus a few hours in the oven), it is so, so, so worth it. The extra time results in super-tender, fall-apart meat with an intensely savory flavor. It’s like pulled pork except without the sauciness factor. Like a drier version…but in a good way! It pairs perfect with the sweetness of honey ham and briny awesomeness of pickles. Oh and cheese. Let’s not forget the cheese.
I strayed from tradition a bit in two ways: (1) As I already mentioned, I opted not to press them (can you imagine pressing 20 mini sandwiches? No thanks), and (2) I added a cilantro mayo to the mix. And it may be my favorite part of the sandwich. It juuuuust beats out that pork.
This mayo. You guys. It is SO GOOD. Of course, you have to like cilantro to be into this…and if you’re not, you could definitely swap it for parsley. Me? I love cilantro. It’s bright and grassy and so perfect with the heavy flavors of the sandwich. It kind of cuts through all the richness and adds that pop of fresh flavor I love so much. I could swim in it. That’s how good it is. You have to try it!
With an icy beer in hand and a platter of these on the table, I’m feelin’ pretty good about the start of summer. Bring it on.
(And PLEASE make the pollen craziness END ALREADY. My face is begging for a reprieve.)
½ cup minced onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (5-lb) bone-in pork shoulder
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons water
1 cup mayo
Salt and pepper, to taste
Slider rolls, sliced in half
The cilantro mayo
Deli-sliced Swiss or provolone cheese
The mojo pork, sliced or shredded
Deli-sliced honey ham
Thinly sliced dill pickles
In the bottom of a large baking dish, combine the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, citrus juices, vinegar, Worcestershire, and kosher salt.
In a small bowl, combine the garlic and onion powders, pepper, and cumin. Whisk 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture into the citrus juice mixture (reserve the remaining spice mix for now).
Add the pork shoulder to the marinade in the baking dish and massage into the meat, flipping it around as necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Make sure to flip the pork shoulder a couple times to ensure that all sides of the roast are marinating evenly.
When you are ready to roast the pork, heat the oven to 350°F and remove the pork from the marinade. Discard the marinade and pat the pork dry with paper towels. Place a small roasting rack in the bottom of the baking dish and place the pork on top. Rub the remaining spice mix all over the pork and pour the wine into the bottom of the baking dish. Roast for 3 hours. Reduce the oven temperature to 275°F and roast for another 3 hours. The meat should be very tender and almost falling apart. Allow the roast to rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing or shredding for the sandwiches.
Combine the cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, and water and puree until smooth. Fold into the mayo and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Keep refrigerated until ready to use (the longer it sits, the better it gets!).
Preheat the oven to 250°F and line a baking sheet with tin foil. Spread a thin layer of mustard on one half of the sliced slider rolls. Spread a layer of the cilantro mayo on the other half. Top both pieces with cheese. Layer the pork, ham, and pickles on one of the bread halves and then top with the other piece. Press down gently and then transfer assembled sliders to the prepared baking sheet. Once all the sliders are assembled, cover the baking sheet lightly with tin foil and place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and everything is warmed through. Serve immediately.
Pork and mayo adapted from here.