♪♪ -"Cook's Country" is about more than just getting dinner on the table.
We're also fascinated by the people and stories behind the dishes.
We go inside kitchens in every corner of the country to learn how real people cook, and we look back through time to see how history influences the way we eat today.
We bring that inspiration back to our test kitchen so we can share it with you.
This is "Cook's Country."
♪♪ Today on "Cook's Country," Bryan visits the Cuban Sandwich Festival in Tampa, Florida.
Jack explores the world of mustard, and Bryan makes the ultimate Cuban sandwich with homemade Cuban bread and roast pork with mojo.
That's all right here on "Cook's Country."
♪♪ ♪♪ -When is a sandwich more than a sandwich?
[ Rooster crows ] ♪♪ When you're in Tampa, Florida, and it's a Cuban.
-Cuban Sandwich Festival 2022.
-Every year, Ybor City, a small Cuban enclave within Tampa, is host to the annual Cuban Sandwich Festival... -Love the food, the energy, the people.
-...which brings together thousands of sandwich enthusiasts from all around the world.
And local chefs and sandwich artists all compete for the coveted title of Best Cuban Sandwich.
-You can taste the love, man.
-You can taste the love.
♪♪ [ Man singing in Spanish ] ♪♪ -I made sure I had a guide -- Jeff Houck, the man who literally wrote the book on the Cuban.
-This is just a road full of flavor.
Sort of that mishmash of Tampa flavors that you're gonna see from a lot of different cultures.
This is what makes Tampa great.
-But I needed to hear directly from the people -- What is a Cuban?
-You got to have a boatload of pork.
-It has to be fresh, roasted, pork seasoned well.
-When I taste the sandwich, I want to taste the sandwich and not the hot.
-I ain't do that.
-I have stopped being friends with people over this simple fact -- salami on the Cuban sandwich.
-You can't have just mayo and just mustard.
You have to have mayo mustard.
-I don't know.
On a hot day like this, mayonnaise, it'll go bad.
-I like lettuce and tomato.
-No lettuce and tomato.
-Oh, she's not my child.
-[ Laughs ] -I am.
-As you can tell, the debate around the Cuban sandwich is hotter than the Florida sun.
So before the festivities kicked off, I met with Jeff at the Ybor City Museum, where he took me through the unique history of the Cuban sandwich.
-The Cuban sandwich is not a Tampa story.
It's a Ybor City story.
Those flavors marinated here and mingled together to make the sandwich that we know today.
So Ybor City was started in about 1886.
Vicente Ybor moved from Key West up to Tampa because he was looking for better conditions for his cigar empire.
Labor was an issue down there, so he decided to create his own town, like a lot of tycoons do.
A lot of bigger places had German neighborhoods or Spanish neighborhoods, Cuban neighborhoods.
Tampa is all mashed up, and it's just what makes Tampa great.
It's that lack of barrier that really allowed the place to become a boomtown.
-So there's a lot of controversy about where the Cuban sandwich actually originated.
-What's your take on it?
-You know, it would be hard to say that a version of the sandwich didn't exist in Cuba because it did.
It was called the mixto back then.
But as it migrated to Tampa, it evolved every place that it went until you got an outstanding combination of crunchy, creamy, salty, sweet, tart.
I mean, one bite of all of that makes it a unique experience.
But Tampa is really where the reputation of the sandwich blossomed.
And when I really want that Rosetta Stone experience, I'll get the original Cuban sandwich at the Columbia.
-And with that, I was off to the Columbia, a cathedral of Spanish food, a place run by the same family for over a hundred years, where the Cuban sandwich evolved from the mixto into the Cuban sandwich we all know today.
I met with fifth-generation owner Andrea Gonzmart Williams.
She gave me a tour and a history lesson all wrapped in one.
-It's not just a restaurant.
It's not a corporate-owned restaurant.
There's a family behind it.
Oh, Uncle George!
You're looking handsome.
You didn't know you were gonna be on camera today.
There is nothing fake about this restaurant.
We put our heart and soul into it, and I -- And I hope the customers feel that when they come in.
My great-great-grandfather came from Cuba, started working at the Florida Brewery.
And what the brewery would do back then is, they would help people start their own saloon so they could sell their beer.
And so he was given that opportunity.
The Columbia Saloon was opened in 1903.
The original bar that's still here.
Started as a small corner café, grew room by room, and over the centuries, we became 15 dining rooms for 1,700 seats.
We encompass a whole city block.
-Our tour concluded in the kitchen, where Andrea took me through the process of making a Cuban sandwich.
You want to make sure every bite has some mustard in it.
-One that they've been perfecting since the Cuban first appeared on their menu in the early 1900s.
As a rookie, I had to trust the process.
Yeah, I can see.
I put too much mustard.
It's leaking out the side.
And in the end, Andrea had captured the perfect blend of flavors.
It looks beautiful.
-Now that I had a sense for the depth of pride that Tampa has for its sandwich, I was ready for the festival.
We mingled with vendors... -Thank you, brother.
-...enjoyed making some new friends... ate a million Cubans... -If I didn't have to eat 24 more, I would go back and take another bite.
...and cast our ballots for the best version of Tampa's hometown sandwich.
In the end, some deserving chefs got their well-earned accolades.
-Ladies and gentlemen, the world's best Cuban sandwich.
-And I gained a profound respect for one of my absolute favorite sandwiches.
♪♪ -Most historians agree that Ybor City in Tampa is the birthplace of the Cuban sandwich.
And that sandwich really reflects all the many waves of immigrants that have gone through the city and still flavor it today.
Now Bryan's here, and he's gonna show us how to make this tremendous sandwich at home.
Before I went to Tampa, Bridget, I had no idea there was so much enthusiasm and so many varying opinions about the proper way to make a Cuban sandwich.
-So today we're gonna walk you through how to make this amazing sandwich, including how to roast our own Cuban-style pork and how to make our own Cuban bread from scratch.
-We are investing in the sandwich.
-A lot riding on this, so buckle in.
-So we're gonna begin with our pork.
So a lot of recipes start off by marinating the pork in a mojo.
In short, it's a combination of citrus juices, oil, garlic, and spices.
We tried some of those recipes, really enjoyed them, but we had some great results using a dry cure.
So we have 1/3 cup of kosher salt there.
We're gonna add 1/3 cup of brown sugar, a tablespoon of lime zest.
-A tablespoon of orange zest.
So we're using the zest instead of the actual citrus juice here.
Three minced garlic cloves.
2 teaspoons of ground cumin, 2 teaspoons of dried oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
Just gonna mix that up.
So this is all set.
And now we're going to deal with our pork butt here.
So we have a 5-pound boneless pork butt, and we're looking for one that has a fat cap on it.
And we're looking for something about a quarter of an inch.
So we're going to start by cutting a 1-inch crosshatch pattern into this fat cap so when we apply our rub, it has a way to get access to the meat there.
So that's ready to go.
Okay, now to season this, we're going to transfer it to a double layer of plastic wrap.
So we're gonna start on the bottom, and we're just gonna rub half of our rub on all sides there.
-Mmm, mmm, mmm.
-Then we can flip it over, put the rest of it on top.
Kind of get it in all those nooks and crannies.
Now, it doesn't have to be perfectly covered all over because we are gonna wrap it up.
So we'll just put plastic wrap up and over.
So we want to refrigerate this for at least 12 hours or even up to 24 hours.
The longer it refrigerates, the longer it sits with that cure, the better it's gonna be.
All right, Bridget.
Our pork has been curing for a good 12 hours, and now we're ready to roast it off, so we can take it and drop it into our Dutch oven.
And then to that Dutch oven, we're gonna add 2 cups of water because the pork really benefits from a moist cooking environment.
It really helps break down that collagen and connective tissue within the pork.
-So we want to just take care not to wash off any of the spice rub that's on top of the pork.
And then we're gonna stick a temperature probe into the thickest part of the meat, right in the center.
And we're gonna put a lid on it, and we're gonna throw it into a 325-degree oven.
And we want to let it cook for a good 2 1/2 to 3 hours until it hits 175 degrees.
Once it hits 175, we're gonna remove the lid and let it continue to cook for another 45 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes till it hits 195.
That last stage of uncovered cooking is really gonna help caramelize the exterior.
While the pork is in the oven cooking, we're gonna make our mojo.
-We're gonna begin with 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil.
And to that, we're gonna add six minced garlic cloves.
And we're gonna let that cook over low heat until the garlic just becomes fragrant.
And that takes anywhere between three and five minutes.
-All right, Bridget, it's been about five minutes.
You can really smell that garlic.
-We're gonna turn off the heat, and now we can add all of our juices.
We're gonna begin with 1/3 cup of lime juice, 1/3 cup of orange juice, 1/3 cup of pineapple juice, 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard, 1 1/4 teaspoons of ground cumin, 3/4 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 3/4 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
So we'll just whisk that all together.
All right, Bridget, our pork is at 194.9 degrees.
-I think that counts.
It's close enough.
-Disconnect it there.
This gorgeous-looking hunk of meat here is ready to eat.
We could let this rest for a good 45 minutes.
-And then we could eat it with some of the mojo we just made.
But today, we're all about the sandwiches.
So we are gonna let this rest until it's fully cooled, because it's gonna be far easier to slice once the meat is cold.
So we're gonna tent it with aluminum foil just to keep people from picking at it.
When I say "people," I mean you.
-While that's resting and cooling, now it's time to turn our attention to the Cuban bread.
So we're gonna begin with 3 cups of flour going into our stand mixer -- about 15 ounces there.
2 teaspoons of instant yeast.
1 1/2 teaspoons of table salt.
We'll just give this a quick whisk to combine it.
And then we can add our remaining ingredients.
We have 1/4 cup of lard.
And now a sponge, which in this case is a combination of 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup water, and 1/2 teaspoon of instant yeast.
We let that mixture sit overnight, and what that does is, it contributes flavor and a really nice pillowy texture to the bread.
-And then 1 cup of warm water.
And we'll let this mix on low speed for about two minutes just to moisten all the flour.
So all the flour is now moistened, and there's no dry spots remaining.
So we're gonna turn this mixer up to medium speed, and we're gonna knead the dough for a good eight minutes until it clears the sides of the bowl, but still sticks in the middle.
-All right, Bridget, it's been a good eight minutes, and you can see that the dough has cleared the sides of the bowl, but it still sticks there to the bottom.
So now we can just turn this dough out onto our counter.
We're just gonna kind of shape it into a ball.
So we're gonna put this into a greased bowl.
We're just gonna turn it to coat it in the grease.
We're gonna cover it with plastic wrap.
And we're gonna let it sit at room temperature until it's doubled in size.
And that only takes about 45 minutes.
-Not too bad.
-So our dough has been resting.
And you can see -- It's now doubled in size.
So we can cut it in half.
We want to get two pieces of dough.
We're making two loaves here.
-So what we want to do is, we want to use our fingertips, and we want to press the dough into a 10x6-inch rectangle with the long side parallel to us.
So I like to do that by just tapping it with my fingers.
And then I'll use the bench scraper to kind of square up the edges as I get to the right size.
So we're gonna begin by pulling the top half of the dough down to the midline.
And then once it's there, we're going to just press it in there to seal.
And then we're gonna pull the bottom half up to the midline.
-Tap it a pinch.
And then we're going to fold the top and bottom halves together until they meet and then pinch that.
Make sure you pinch the ends, too.
Roll it seam side down.
-And we're just gonna gently shape this dough into a 15-inch loaf.
And then once you get to about 15 inches, you want to just sort of taper those -- those ends.
So we have our loaves here on this cookie sheet.
It's lined with parchment.
So now we're gonna cover this with plastic wrap.
We're gonna let these loaves rise until they're puffy.
And that takes about another 30 minutes.
-All right, Bridget, our loaves are looking nice and puffy.
-It's been about another 30 minutes.
And now we're gonna score the loaves with a paring knife.
We're gonna go 1/8 inch deep and end 1 1/2 inch from each end.
-So that the loaves can expand.
Okay, you'll also notice that we're cooking these loaves on a cookie sheet rather than on a typical rimmed baking sheet, and that's because we want to cover them for the first 20 minutes of cooking.
We're covering them with this disposable aluminum roasting pan, and that's gonna trap a lot of the steam, and that will contribute to a really crispy crust.
So 20 minutes with the pan on top.
Then we're gonna remove the pan for the last 12 minutes of cooking so that the loaves can get nice and brown and come up to 210 degrees.
It does look gorgeous.
It smells wonderful, too.
All right, Bridget.
We can set the loaves down here.
And we're looking for 210 degrees internal, so we can give them a little poke.
Does that work, or should I... -Epic fail.
-[ Laughs ] -211.
-Now we can let these loaves cool on a wire rack for a good 30 minutes until they're no longer warm.
♪♪ -There is a dizzying array of mustard types at the supermarket.
And today Jack's gonna walk me through all of them.
So I hope you're ready to do a lot of tasting.
-So you're basically gonna tell me what you're tasting in each one of these.
So these are all favorite mustards from our tastings.
But we really wanted to explain to folks what mustard for what occasion.
So we're gonna start with the simple stuff first.
-I bet you know what that is.
-Oh, this goes on hot dogs.
-So that is yellow mustard.
So the big thing is, all mustard's... -Mmm.
-...made with the same four ingredients -- mustard seed, vinegar, water, and salt.
But you get very different results.
So first thing is yellow mustard seeds versus brown.
Yellow mustard is made with yellow mustard seeds.
-Which are very mild.
This is an almost lemony, sort of buttery mustard.
So next up, this is brown mustard, made with brown mustard seeds, which are much spicier.
And not only are they hotter -- The heat tends to go into your nose more.
But it has a deeper flavor.
Now, so there's -- Vinegar is the first ingredient here.
So it's really kind of briny and acidic and zingy.
-Great with sausages.
-Cut through all of that fat.
So Dijon mustard is also made... -Mm-hmm.
-...with brown mustard seeds.
-But it is sieved.
So you don't see any of the little flecks of brown in it.
-So it's got the heat.
And in this case, mustard is the first ingredient.
-And so it is mustard forward with less vinegar because the vinegar is a preservative.
-But more vinegar at some point can diminish the reaction that causes the heat.
And so if you have a super-acidic mustard, it's often a mild mustard.
Now, two coarse mustards that are really different from each other.
-So this one is spreadable, right?
-So it's basically got cracked seeds in a base of creamy mustard.
-This is great on a sandwich.
-That would taste so good on a cracker with a little bit of cheese.
-Well, you're having -- You're having too much fun today.
-Yeah, I know.
-So this is whole seeds.
-They almost give it, like, a pop.
We felt this was great in a vinaigrette, in a butter sauce over seafood.
It's almost like caviar, how it bursts in your mouth.
-It's really, really good.
-And we're gonna end with some sweet stuff.
-Now, I bet you can imagine the two use cases for these honey mustards, right?
That's for dipping chicken nuggets.
And that is for a ham sandwich.
-I thought it was a little less complex, not necessarily in a bad way.
-But just totally spot-on classic.
-I'm curious what you're gonna think.
-Oh, it looks like caramel.
-Yeah, now... so we couldn't tell.
Is it because of the sugars and the honey, or is it because it's made with mustard flour?
-Rather than, you know, mustard seed.
What are you tasting with this one?
-I like it.
I taste garlic.
Isn't that interesting?
It tastes like it's a ready-made sauce.
-This is really meant for dipping.
I also felt like it had more butterscotch, molasses notes to it... -Mmm.
-...along with the honey notes.
And it just was really interesting and complex and felt like it was... -Ooh.
-...too sticky to put on a sandwich.
I'm not sure how you'd spread it on bread.
-Perfect for dipping, though.
So I'm gonna end -- Since they're all winners... -Mm.
-...there are no favorites.
But I'm gonna ask you.
We're going to a desert island, or you're gonna to a desert island... -Mm.
-...and you get to take one mustard with you for the rest of your life.
-The rest of my life.
I know which one I'm taking.
-I'm taking this guy because I can eat him straight.
It's like caviar to me.
I really just can enjoy that on its own, on a cracker.
-All right, I'm taking the Dijon mustard.
So that means we need separate desert islands.
-I'll wave to you.
[ Laughs ] Thanks, Jack.
♪♪ -Okay, Bridget, our pork has cooled, and we're ready to start assembling our sandwich.
So we want to slice off 10 ounces of this Cuban roast pork.
So we're just gonna shave off thin slices.
So we can weigh this out.
So our bread has cooled, as well.
We're going to cut each loaf in half.
And then we're gonna cut each one of those halves in half horizontally.
So we're gonna start assembling everything from the bottom up.
So there are certain rules here that we're about to break.
So we're gonna represent Tampa and we're representing a little bit of Miami in this one.
So that mojo we made earlier, we're gonna brush the bottom of our sandwiches with the mojo.
And this is something we got from one of the other competitors at the Cuban Sandwich Festival, a guy named Daniel Navarro.
He actually won the contest several years back.
And this is one of the things that he does.
Now, this would not really fly in Tampa, where it's believed that the only true condiment for a Cuban sandwich is yellow mustard.
-Another Tampa rule we're gonna break is putting mayonnaise on the sandwich.
I mean, honestly, we tried sandwiches with and without mayonnaise, and we slightly preferred those with.
Now we're ready to begin layering it.
So among these four sandwiches, we're gonna put 12 ounces of thinly sliced deli ham.
-And this is kind of a nod to the Spanish... -Yes.
-...immigrants that came through the area.
-A little bit of ham.
-So there's our 12 ounces of deli ham, and now we can add our 10 ounces of Cuban roast pork.
And you want to slice this thinly as possible so you really get some coverage.
Want every bite to be as close to perfect as possible.
Now, the Genoa salami.
Now, this is something that Tampa does exclusively that Miami does not, is add salami to their sandwiches.
And it's 3 ounces of Genoa salami with peppercorns.
And now we're gonna put on some Swiss cheese.
We have 6 ounces of Swiss cheese.
Now, exactly four dill pickle chips.
We're going to add mustard to the top piece of bread.
We can cap our sandwiches.
-Now it's a sandwich.
-Now it's a sandwich.
We are finally ready to toast these sandwiches.
We're gonna drop a tablespoon of butter into a nonstick skillet.
Gonna melt that, like so.
We're gonna put two of these sandwiches in there in opposing directions, and we're gonna weight them down with a heavy Dutch oven.
In Tampa, these are usually cooked in a sandwich press.
This is what we do to mimic the sandwich press.
-Little panini press action there.
So we'll let this go for five to seven minutes until they're nicely toasted on the bottom.
-All right, Bridget, let's take a look at our sandwiches, see how they're looking on the bottom.
-So we want to flip them over and... [ Tapping ] ...hear that nice crunchiness.
-That's the tap test?
-That's the tap test.
And now we're going to add another tablespoon of butter.
Melt that down.
All right, so the butter's melted.
We can add our sandwiches back in there, and we'll let them go for another three to five minutes until they're toasted on the second side and the cheese is beginning to melt.
-All right, Bridget.
Our first batch of sandwiches.
-Passed the tap test.
-So we're gonna throw those onto a wire rack.
We're gonna melt the butter for our second batch of sandwiches, and we're gonna throw our first batch of sandwiches in the oven to stay warm at 200 degrees.
-[ Inhales deeply ] -Okay, Bridget, let's cut into our sandwiches.
[ Both laugh ] -All right, in the Tampa tradition, we're gonna cut these on a very steep angle 'cause angles taste better than straight cuts.
-They always do.
[ Gasps ] Look how beautiful that is.
-That looks delicious.
This one is for you.
See you later.
-Wait for me, wait for me.
-I'm really excited.
To say I'm excited doesn't even get you there.
-All right, well, cheers.
-That's a really good sandwich.
-It's not a really good sandwich.
-It's a great sandwich?
-It's a fabulous sandwich.
Might be the sandwich.
The mojo is so bright, so tangy.
Just cuts through.
-Cheese, salami, pork butt.
And it's juicy and tender.
-The bread is super-buttery and light, huh?
-Toasty on the outside.
It's tender on the inside.
Pinnacle of sandwiches.
This might be the best sandwich I've ever eaten.
-You know, I'm gonna agree with you.
I love you, sandwich.
Well, if you want to make these beautiful Cuban sandwiches at home, cure pork butt for at least 12 hours, then roast it until nice and tender.
Make an easy Cuban bread dough.
Bake the dough covered, then uncovered, to brown.
Layer those sandwiches with precision and purpose and toast and press until they're nice and crisp.
So from "Cook's Country" and the fabulous Bryan Roof, the amazing Cuban sandwiches.
You can get this recipe and all the recipes from this season, along with product reviews and select episodes.
And they're all on our website.