A view from my side.
Today is Mother’s Day. A day when kids spend time with their mothers. The popular media representation has the kids making mom breakfast-in-bed. Of course, they have created a huge kitchen mess that mom needs to clean up, but she is so touched by their gesture that she doesn’t mind a bit. The kids surround mom with group hugs and kisses and all is well with the world. Dad, if in the picture at all, sits worthlessly by the side, smiling at the pretty picture.
As a single dad with custody of “My Three Sons,” usually Mother’s Day was just another Sunday in our house. Ex#2 finally relocated close enough to have the boys for Mother’s Day and eventually started having them on that weekend. And, they did try to cook stuff for her, but without an adult to help them in the kitchen, she put a stop to it. A few years later, I remarried and moved to AL, leaving Ex#2 a few states away. They boys weren’t really all that excited to do Mother’s Day stuff for Ex#3 since she wasn’t their mother. It was a bit awkward but they did eventually settle on getting her a card.
Before Ex#3 joined the ExRanks, we adopted Kid#4. I do not have custody of her, but do spend time with her whenever possible. The drive to her place is a scant 10 minutes, so I get to see her often. Interestingly enough, though, she spends Mother’s Day with me. Ex#3 wants Mother’s Day to be just that…Mother’s (read “her”) Day. She wants it kid free to do whatever she wants or needs to do. She sees it as a day to be free from being a mother as opposed to a day to celebrate being a mother.
So, strangely enough, Mother’s Day in my parenting life has usually found ME with the kids instead of their mother. I’ve always found it odd, but I’ve always been ok with it. My boys are older now and usually just call their mother. Kid#4 is here with me and today we will make a Mother’s Day card for her mother. At almost 5 years old, she will enjoy the activity and her mother will (hopefully) appreciate it more since her daughter actually made it versus picking something out from the store.
The Cuban Sandwich is one of my favorites. And, since I don’t really feel like cooking supper tonight, I thought we’d have a late, bigger than normal, lunch. Wanting something different, it being Mother’s Day and all, I decided on Cubans. The kids didn’t make them, but they certainly enjoyed them.
The basic ingredients are pulled pork, sliced ham, cheese and pickles. The most important ingredient, though, is the bread. You can’t make a good Cuban sandwich on bad bread. Of course the purists will say you can’t make a good Cuban sandwich outside of south Florida, so I will acknowledge that and move on. Just what constitutes good Cuban bread is also up for debate. The bakery at the local grocery store here makes a decent Cuban bread and I don’t think twice about using it. They make theirs in longer “loaves” than some, but I simply slice it into individual sandwich size portions and off we go.
The other key point in making a Cuban sandwich is the heat. The sandwich must be pressed in a hot sandwich press of some kind. I usually flip the plates on my waffle iron and I’m good to go. I haven’t tried it with the George Foreman machines, but I imagine that would work. The key here is to put some weight on the sandwich and literally “press” it. This forces the juices in the meats to merge together, melts the cheese while toasting the bread. You have to have a heavy hand on the press to do it right. A light brushing of butter or olive oil on the outside of the bread will also add to the flavor and aid in getting the requisite and desired crunch for the bread.
Sliced cheese – most recipes call for Swiss. I use Provolone.
Sandwich size portion of Cuban bread
Mustard – optional
This is a “layered” sandwich. Cut the loaf into 3 inch sections. Slice the bread, but not completely through, and open it up. (If you want to use mustard, this is the time.) Layer the ham slices on top of that. Next lay the cheese slices on the ham then layer the pulled pork on top of that. There is some controversy on where to put the pickles in all of this. Some people prefer them in the center, where the juices all mix together. Some prefer them on the top, next to the bread. I’m a pickles in the center type of fella, but you decide on your own.
Next, brush the bread with some melted butter on both sides. Some people will spray the sandwich press with a Pam type spray, so feel free if that’s your choice. Place the sandwich in the press and “press it” with a heavy hand. While you don’t need to stand on it, you do want to press the sandwich down to at least half if not 1/4 its original height. This will force the flavors of the ingredients into each other and aid in getting that toasty crunch that makes the sandwich so much fun to eat. Press the sandwich about 3-4 minutes until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted.
Remove from heat and serve. Chips or shoe string fries make a fine addition to this sandwich. This is an “expensive” sandwich, calorie wise. A typical 3 inch sandwich will come in around 350 calories. Add to that the fries or chips and you will be hovering around 550 or more. I almost always have mine with a Modelo Negro, but water works just as well.