Medianoche Sandwiches

The perfect “midnight” snack, it’s easy to see how this sandwich became a staple of the Havana late night scene – after an evening of drinking, dancing and music, this is guaranteed to hit the spot. Also, they’re pretty darn good just for dinner.

Note: This is more or less the recipe from the movie Chef, which, if you haven’t seen it, you really should. Also, I’m not even going to pretend that I didn’t lift this recipe from Roy Choi. I totally did. I really didn’t even modify it; it’s so stinking good. This recipe first appeared in Food & Wine, you can check out the original here.

The only two modifications from the original are these: (1) I use a pork loin rather than a pork butt/shoulder, because it is a leaner cut. No matter what cooking method you choose, they key is to go low and slow. Personally, I’ve found that a nice long sous vide bath really infuses the marinade into the meat, and that method greatly reduces the babysitting time. (2) I prefer regular olive oil to extra virgin in this case, because extra virgin is a little strong in this recipe for my taste (but what do I know).

Anyhow, without further ado:


For the Pork:

  1. A 3-4lb boneless pork loin, fat cap and silver skin removed.
  2. 3/4 cup olive oil
  3. 1 cup lightly packed cilantro, finely chopped
  4. 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
  5. 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  6. 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  7. 1/4 cup lightly packed mint leaves, finely chopped
  8. 8 garlic cloves, minced
  9. 1 tablespoon minced oregano
  10. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  11. Kosher salt

For the Sandwiches (ingredients are per sandwich)

  1. Sweet bread rolls or buns – King’s Hawaiian, Brioche or Challah bread will all work well
  2. 2 slices quality ham
  3. Pickles (traditionally, sweet pickles, but I like the way the sourness of dill balances the sweetness of the bread)
  4. 1 slice of Swiss cheese
  5. Generous portion of roasted pork (from above)
  6. Dijon mustard


For the Pork:

  1. Combine ingredients 2-11 in a food processor and pureè
  2. Reserve about 1/4 cup marinade and refrigerate
  3. Add pork to a heavy duty 1 gallon freezer bag. Pour marinade over pork and massage. Use the water displacement method to seal pork in bag.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or over night.
  5. Cook Pork:
    • In the oven – Preheat oven to 325° – Remove pork from marinade. Discard marinade that the pork was in and plastic bag. Place pork in roasting pan or on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until internal temperature reaches 150°F, 2- 3 hours, depending on size of roast. Baste occasionally with reserved marinade.
    • Sous Vide – Leave pork in bag. Bring water bath to 150°F; cook 4 hours. Remove from bag and pat dry. Discard plastic bag and marinade. Sear pork on hot grill, or in cast iron skillet, basting occasionally with reserved marinade.
  6. Allow pork to rest 20 minutes. Slice pork thinly with a sharp knife.

For the Sandwiches (Final Assembly)

  1. Head griddle (or ideally, a panini press) to medium high heat
  2. Smear bread (both top and bottom) with Dijon mustard. Go easy.
  3. Assemble sandwiches in this order: several generous slices of roasted pork, followed by ham, followed by cheese, followed by pickles
  4. Grill sandwiches (like you would for grilled cheese) until bread is golden brown, pressing occasionally

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