Pickles and mustard. Mustard and pickles. What if I told you these two ingredients are my favorite part of a Cuban sandwich? Would you give a light little chuckle but then secretly roll your eyes and judge me? I understand if you would. But in all seriousness, without those ingredients, a Cuban wouldn’t be special at all. It’s the magic of making the two kinds of pork and swiss cheese work together. The pickle and mustard cut through all of that richness making you beg for another irresistible bite.
Along with my pickle and mustard rant, I also think it’s important to have a flavorful shredded pork. Too many Cubans have I wasted due to pre-made, unseasoned pork. A good Cuban is all team work with not one element in the spotlight (except for the pickles and mustard). I used a pork tenderloin for the pictures but the recipe is for a pork shoulder. It’s a more authentic cut of pork but I was lazy and didn’t feel like driving to the store when I had a perfectly good tenderloin at home. I will post my cooking notes for the tenderloin at the bottom. Ok, ready? Go team!
Let’s check out our ingredient line up:
From Top Left to Right: flour tortillas, limes, pork tenderloin trying to look like pork shoulder, yellow mustard, cilantro, garlic, swiss cheese, orange juice, pickles, dried oregano, and deli ham.
We first start with la marinade. Put your cilantro, orange juice, limes, garlic, oregano, and a dash of salt in a blender. That’s right, we are blending our limes with their rinds on! I told you this was going to be flavorful! Blend until pureed.
Now, we take half of that marinade and pour it over the pork. Turn it a few times to coat then leave it alone. It needs to marinate for a while. How fresh does that look? We then slow cook our pork (hello crock pot!) so it will be fork tender and easy to shred.
Do you know what comes next? We shred! Take a sample! Take two! You’re the cook and I think you deserve it!
Let’s assemble our quesadillas! Take a tortilla, schmear some mustard on it. Use yellow or spicy brown mustard. This is NOT the time for dijon. Feel me? Then scatter your pickles on top of the mustard. Then place your cooked deli meat on top (I know I didn’t show that step. Forgive me?). Take a healthy handful of that delicious shredded pork and put on top of the ham. Then, add your swiss. Lastly, schmear more mustard on another tortilla and place on top.
If you have a panini press, then this is the time to break it out. If you don’t, just heat up a skillet with some butter. Place your quesadilla in the skillet once heated and then top with another pan. After a few minutes, take the top pan off and turn over your quesadilla for even cooking. Once golden brown and the cheese is melted, remove from heat, cut and serve! This has all the yummy components of a Cuban sandwich but in fun quesadilla form! Happy ‘dilla making!
For the pork tenderloin: I made sure the silver skin was off (it won’t cook down but be tough and chewy). I cooked the tenderloin in a dutch oven at 200 degrees for about 3-4 hours. Then shred. The meat can be somewhat dry so add a little bit of the cooking liquid if it’s too dry for you.