Date Night In: Cubanos, Mojitos and Legion

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.

Date Night In - Cubano

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

pork shoulder in 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

marindating pork shoulder

  • 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.

roast pork shoulder

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.

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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!

make shift sandwich press

The sandwich was perfection.

Cubano Close Up

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.

Date Night In - Cubano

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.

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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.

10 comments On Date Night In: Cubanos, Mojitos and Legion

  • Looks amazing! I am in Tampa- lots of Cuban influence here- and those sandwiches are the best! Perfect AFTER a long night of mojitos, or so I’m told! 😉 I was hoping to hear the story of the counter top!

    • HA! OK, here’s the quick story of the counter top…. I was making stock out of the shoulder bone and I accidentally left it on high when leaving the house. The husband woke up to the sound of the smoke alarm and in the commotion he placed the burning pot on the counter. I was so mad at myself. I could have burnt the whole house down!

  • Wow, those sandwiches sound amazing, I love cubanos, too! We’re having family over for Father’s Day, maybe this would be a good thing to make for that. I’ve never played pinochle before, but it sounds like fun! We started a tradition last year when we visited my aunt and uncle at the lake of having spades tournaments with the kids, it was a lot of fun.

  • Dear Roni,

    I’ve been reading your blog (and the ones before this one) for years. Can you write a post about how to condition yourself to get up early for exercise?I love it when I do it (and it is really the only way I can exercise during the weekdays), but find it hard to do. Thank you, Catherine

  • I’m just popping in to say thank you so much for the Legion recommendation. I started watching because you made it sound right up my alley and I’m LOVING it. I’m on episode 6 and I’m dreading running out of episodes. Thanks again!

  • I really enjoyed these very good recipes I will make for myself even today thanks for sharing this matter …

  • Amazing Keep it up wonderfull

  • I miss you!!!

    • I actually tried to blog this weekend and hit writer’s block! SO many thoughts in my head and not able to get them out. A post in coming… soon! Promise!

  • Hope y’all are just busy abs everything’s OK!

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