Stand and deliver


A million years ago when I was teaching eighth grade in East Harlem, my homeroom students would show up every morning armed with a Cuban sandwich. For breakfast! FYI, a Cuban sandwich is a pile of fatty ham, greasy pork and super melty cheese topped with pickles all soaking through some over-processed white bread. So, yeah. It’s not great for you.

Even back then I tried counseling them away from the McCoronary diet, but all I got for my trouble was some rowdy razzing for being “scrawny.” (Remember way back when being called scrawny was an insult? Today, in these jeans? Not so much.)

I became instantly nostalgic when I came across this recipe for a healthier version of a Cuban Sandwich in Clean Eating Magazine:

1 lb pork tenderloin
1tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
¼ tsp Sucanat
1 ½ tbsp Dijon Mustard
4 five inch whole-wheat sandwich rolls, cut in half lengthwise
2 slices uncured ham (2oz) cut in half
4 oz Swiss cheese thinly sliced
1 cup loosely packed argula

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Rinse tenderloin and pat dry.  Mix cumin and paprika in a small bowl and rub all over surface of tenderloin.  Put tenderloin on a baking sheet and transfer to oven to roast, turning once or twice, for about 25 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin registers 150-155 F.

Let pork rest about 5 minutes. Slice it into very thin rounds.  Cool completely before building sandwich. Spread Dijon on 1 side of each roll.  Stack about 6 slices (2oz) pork in each sandwich.  Add 1 slice of ham and 1 slice of cheese to each.  Divide pickled cucumbers and arugula evenly among sandwiches.

For bonus points, make your own homemade pickles.
Whisk vinegar and Sucanat together in a mixing bowl.  Add 1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced. Toss to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (Keep your remaining vinegar mixture from pickling to make a vinaigrette.)

Ah, if I only knew then what I know now. Those kids could have been eating healthy pork sandwiches and I could have reveled in my scrawniness.


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