Our local public library has a used-book store with an outstanding, ever changing, selection of cookbooks, usually in near-perfect condition and at extraordinarily low prices. I used to visit it at least once a week and buy one or two books each time I went. For the last couple of months, however, I’ve cut back on all my cookbook purchases primarily because of space. My shelves are literally full.
But a few weeks ago my husband, who works close to the library, came home one evening and presented me with, you guessed it, another find. It was a pristine copy of Michael Lomonaco’s Nightly Specials. “Where are we going to put it?” I asked. I’m sure that was not the response my better half expected, since he knew I had enjoyed the author’s cooking both at Windows on the World and more recently at Porterhouse Bar and Grill at the Time-Warner Center. “It only cost $2,” he replied. Just look through it and. . .”
The next day, I felt bad that my acceptance of the gift was less than gracious, so I paged through the book determined to find a dish that would reflect its theme of creating a “nightly special” from each recipe’s leftovers. It didn’t take me long to settle on one that would yield a delicious roast with abundant remains for hearty sandwiches later in the week.
I chose a slow-cooked Garlic and Rum Pork Roast that provided the basis for pressed Cuban sandwiches. For the roast, I used a 5-pound shoulder of pork that was marinated overnight in a puree of garlic, onions, rum, brown sugar, lime juice, parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper. After an initial blast at 400ºF, followed by 2 hours at 350ºF, the huge chunk of pork was the quintessence of succulence rich with Caribbean flavors of rum, lime, garlic and parsley with a subtle burnt-sugar sweetness.
Two days later, I carved thin slices from the leftover roast to prepare pressed Cuban sandwiches with ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard on soft ciabatta rolls. The sandwiches were so good that we had them twice that week.
As you might expect by now, I found space for the book.
I followed the recipe pretty closely except for being a tad more generous with the rum and the sugar. Not having any light-brown sugar, I substituted dark. I also extended both the initial cooking time at 400ºF to give the roast a darker color as well as the cooking time at low 300ºF. My total cooking time was just shy of 3 hours.
The recipe wasn’t clear about what to do with the marinade after taking the roast from the fridge. I left most of it on, lightly scraping some of it from the sides of the roast. Even with the abundant marinade, the roast browned beautifully. I also let the roast stand at room temperature for about 1.5 hours. Finally, my roast was bone-in and untied.
Garlic and Rum Pork Roast (from Nightly Specials by David Lomonaco)
6 large garlic cloves
2 small white onions, coarsely chopped
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped (about 1/2 cup loosely packed)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (I used coarse Kosher salt.)
1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
One 4- to 5-pound fresh pork shoulder, trimmed of any excess fat, boned and tied (sometimes called Boston butt or picnic pork) My roast had a bone and was not tied.
1. Put the garlic, onions, parsley, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon pepper, rum, sugar, and lime juice in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until finely chopped, then drizzle in the oil, pulsing just to combine. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
2. Put the pork in a large bowl or on a platter big enough to hold it with the marinade
3. Vigorously rub the pork with the marinade, cover, and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Put the pork on a rack in a large, heavy bottomed roasting pan. Pour 1 cup water into the bottom of the pan to catch drippings. Put the pan in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
5. Lower the oven temperature to 350ºF and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted to the thickest part of the pork reads 155ºF, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (My roast took about 30 minutes longer.)
As it cooks, baste the pork with any marinade remaining in the bowl.
Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the pork to a cutting board and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Carve the pork into ¼-inch thick slices, removing the string as you do.
If desired, pour the pan drippings into a measuring cup and degrease using a basting bulb and spoon the sauce over the sliced pork. (I skipped the pan drippings; the roast was flavorful enough on its own.)
Wine Pairing: Spanish Rijoa
As a “nightly special” designed to make use of the left-over pork, Lomonaco suggests making pressed Cuban sandwiches by filling “soft rolls with thinly sliced pork, ham, pickles, and queso bianco.” As I wrote above, I used soft ciabatta rolls and substituted Swiss cheese for the queso bianco. Following other recipes that I found for the sandwich, I coated the bread with mustard and generously buttered my panini grill. A few pictures below illustrate the process: