I don’t have many solid, 100% rules in life. Here’s a big one: If there’s a Cuban sandwich on the menu, get the Cuban sandwich. Only a Sith deals in absolutes? Not true. It’s never failed me. Let’s try making one on the BBQ.
Cubans are simple in theory. You start with pork two ways: sliced ham and shredded pork. I can get both from a single shoulder. Marry that meat on some ciabatta, with pickles, swiss cheese, and (frequently) some brown mustard. Finish that puppy with a panini-style pressing. That can also be done on a BBQ grill.
Start off with a whole pork shoulder on the 55 gallon smoker. I use a 3/4 chimney full of coals and most of a bag of mesquite wood chunks.
To prep the shoulder, I trimmed off the heavy fat and coated the meat with a bunch of brown sugar-based rub, well mixed with paprika, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, and garlic salt.
I am going to set up the whole shoulder for a nice, slow smoke on Sunday morning. Two and a half hours should be good. To kill the time, I am taking the kiddo to see The Avengers.
Wow. The Avengers was friggin’ awesome. See that damn movie, especially if you have a 6 year old. Hulk kicks ass… all kinds of ass. Worth the price of admission and more.
Anywho, after some serious smoking, I carved off the non-bone half of the shoulder. (Ignore the kids’ beef hot dog lunch on the corner of the grill.) Three hours after putting it on the temp is still about 275. The meat itself has an internal temp of about 150 degrees and smells unbelievably amazing.
The bone-in half will get the foil wrap and some juice/beer to steam. Another two to three hours will get me some epic shredable pork.
Steam the bone half with some apple juice and ale for about 2 to 2.5 hours on the smoker. It’s holding steady at about 275.
Once all the pork is prepped and the sandwich ingredients are set up on a sandwich, I still need to panini this sando. How do you do this on a BBQ? BBQ Panini Brick is the answer. WTF is that, you ask? Well, you wrap a paver stone in a bunch of aluminum foil and put it back on the grill for some indirect melty, squishy finishing. (I plan to set up an e-commerce section of this site and sell panini BBQ bricks for $20 a pop. )
In the end, a beautiful creation emerges. Slice it up and consume.
Now… a critical part of this competition is to pair this sandwich with some kind of craft beer. I’m open to suggestions, but let’s start with the flavors in the sandwich. Sweet, smoky pork, the salty tartness of pickles, the strong flavors of swiss cheese… you can go crisp and fresh like a lager or go in the polar opposite direction for some kind of porter/stout. Ale doesn’t sound right. Pilsner could work here.
Regardless, this pork shoulder sandwich experiment was highly successful. I have a ton of shredded shoulder left over. We have a great potential entree for the BBQ competition. All who attended the practice were thrilled. Give this a shot. You won’t be sorry.