We continued our new “Date Night In” tradition this past Friday and I’m going on record: This is now my absolute favorite thing to do.
The Husband and I pick a meal, pair it with a cocktail and prepare for it all week. The preparation is normally only a trip to the grocery store and maybe the liquor store but the Cubanos we decided to make required us to prepare a bone-in pork shoulder way ahead of time.
And we were TOTALLY game.
Yet again, Binging with Babish was our inspiration.
We’ve been talking about doing this one for a good month. I already knew I like Cubanos. The Husband has never had one but the video intrigued him.
We started prepping Wednesday evening.
Wednesday – The Brine
- Bone-in pork shoulder (I think ours was like 7 pounds)
- 4 cups orange juice (store-bought)
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup spiced rum
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- Head of garlic, minced
- Fresh oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage
- 3 dried bay leaves
I cut the skin on the shoulder and scored the top just like Babish. Then we mixed the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and submerged the shoulder.
We let it marinate overnight in the fridge until Thursday evening.
Thursday – The Marinade
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Juice and zest of 3 oranges
- Juice, zest and rinds of 6 limes
- Fresh cilantro, oregano, mint
- 1 head garlic, minced
- Healthy pinches of salt & pepper
- 2 tablespoons cumin
Thursday after dinner we removed the shoulder from the brine and patted it dry. We dumped the brine and mixed the marinade ingredients in the same bowl and then added the shoulder back, rubbing the marinade in.
The bowl went back in the fridge overnight for Friday.
Friday – The Big Day
Friday my office closed early for the holiday and it was perfect since we knew we needed to roast the shoulder for at least 2.5 hours. We pulled it out of the fridge, basted it with the marinade one last time and roasted it until the inserted thermometer read 160 degrees.
We were both in awe. After letting it rest we tasted it and like Babish, we were taken aback at how good it was. I don’t normally put this much prep work in for anything, not even Thanksgiving but let me tell you. It paid off!
The Husband kept sneaking bites while we were getting everything else ready.
It was time to make the sandwiches. We toasted the inside and then spread on a thin layer of yellow mustard before layering grilled ham, the pork, a slice of Swiss, and sandwich pickles. I used a little butter on the grill and spread a bit more on the top of the sandwich.
We don’t have a sandwich press so I heated my cast-iron skillet and used it to press the tops while they grilled on my cast-iron griddle. It worked like a charm!
The sandwich was perfection.
One of those things you can’t believe you made at home.
We paired it with some roasted asparagus — because I can’t not have a vegetable — and perfectly perfect Mojitos using this recipe from the New Cocktail Hour book.
- 2 oz white rum
- 3/4 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
- 3/4 oz simple syrup (we make our own just using raw sugar and water)
- 6-8 mint leaves
- 1-2 ounces sparkling mineral water
Gently muddle mint and simple syrup in a rocks glass. Add lime juice, rum, and stir. Fill with ice and top with sparkling water.
I should have taken a photo of the first one he made — it was beautiful in the glass with the mint leaves — but I totally spaced. All I have is this one in our completed meal.
You may be wondering where the kids are for all this. Well, they had sandwiches as well but weren’t game for the Cubano, even though The 11-Year-Old loved the pork. They ended up having a picnic in the living room watching Tera Nova ’cause, ya know, dinosaurs.
After the boys went to the bed The Husband and I finished watching Legion, which I love! It’s like superhero, sci-fi, horror all wrapped into one fun series. Not to mention Dan Stevens is fabulous in it. He’s fast becoming my favorite actor.
So I guess it was another successful date night in. Next week we’re cooking for friends and then playing pinochle. Go ahead… make all the old jokes you like. We deserve it.