Chef Justin Brown
Gourmet Grub Scratch Kitchen
Grilled Cuban sandwiches gained popularity in South Florida with the influx of immigrants from Cuba, but now appear on menus in every part of the U.S. In his Colorado restaurant, chef Brown differentiates his version by adding bourbon-sauteed onions to the filling. Thinly sliced smoked pork, ham, Gruyere cheese and pickles complete the sandwich build.
2 cups vegetable oil
2½ lb. yellow onions, julienned
3½ oz. brown sugar
1 tbsp. sea salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ cup bourbon
8 oz. smoked pork, thinly sliced
8 oz. ham, thinly sliced
4 oz. bourbon onions
8 slices challah bread
Softened unsalted butter, as needed
8 slices Gruyere cheese
Dijonnaise, as needed
16 dill pickle planks
1. Prepare bourbon onions: In large saute pan over high heat, heat oil until it starts to smoke. Add onions; cook, stirring frequently, until onions start to blister around the edges.
2. Add sugar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and cook, stirring frequently, until onions turn golden brown. Deglaze pan with bourbon and simmer until liquid is reduced to a glaze. Use immediately or store in refrigerator up to 1 week.
3. Prepare sandwiches: In skillet over medium heat, combine pork, ham and onions; heat through.
4. Spread butter on one side of each challah slice. Place buttered-side down on nonstick pan or griddle over medium heat. Spread Dijonnaise on 4 bread slices; top with cheese and pickles. When cheese has melted, top with meat and onions and remaining bread slices. Grill sandwich to warm through. Serve immediately.
Photograph courtesy of National Onion Association