Bunk’s Pork Belly Cubano Sandwich
Yields 6 sandwiches
by Karen Brooks
from The Mighty Gastropolis: Portland
first glance, this sandwich from Portland’s Bunk Sandwiches looks like a
straight-up reprise of the Cuban working man’s ham and cheese sandwich. But one
substitution alone earned it national acclaim: switching molasses-rubbed, flavor-rich
pork belly for the conventional roast pork. Bunk’s plan includes an overnight
marinade, a three-hour oven roasting, and a final ride in a panini press for
that full-on crispy finish.
For the pork belly
1 tsp. ground fennel seeds
1 tsp. ground chile flakes
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
large garlic clove, peeled and halved
3-lb. slab pork belly, skin removed
For the sandwiches
6-inch French buns, halved lengthwise
cup plus 2 Tbs. high-quality mayonnaise
cup American yellow mustard
Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
10 oz. smoked ham, thinly sliced
pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise
cup melted butter
Make the pork belly
medium bowl, combine the salt, sugar, fennel seeds, chile flakes, and nutmeg.
Rub the raw garlic halves over the pork and discard. Sprinkle the spice mixture
over the pork to coat well. Transfer to a large sealable bag (or a covered roasting
dish) to marinate in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours.
hour before roasting, remove the pork belly from the refrigerator to bring up
to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 275°F.
the belly in a shallow roasting pan, meat-side down, and brush the top with the
molasses. Place a piece of parchment paper over the meat and cover the pan
tightly with foil. Roast until fork-tender, about 3 hours.
Make the sandwiches
a panini grill or large cast-iron skillet until hot. Using a sharp knife, cut
the pork crosswise into six 1⁄4-inch-thick slices, then cut each slice in half,
reserving the remaining pork belly for another use.
the buns and spread or squirt about 1-1⁄2 tsp. mayonnaise and 1 tsp. mustard
over each half. Drizzle with a few dashes of hot sauce and sprinkle with salt.
On each bottom half, layer slices of cheese, ham, pork belly, and pickles. Cover
with the tops and brush the outside of each bun with melted butter.
batches, place the filled buns in the panini grill, pressing down to flatten
them slightly. If using a cast-iron skillet, put another heavy skillet or
weight on top to flatten them and turn them over after 2 or 3 minutes. Grill
until golden brown. Serve immediately.
Photo: Gideon Bosker