I consider myself somewhat of a kitchen appliance minimalist...besides my mixer, food processor, and a couple other favorites, I just never really saw the point in an extra contraption taking up real estate in the kitchen that only does one thing. Who needs a rice maker when you have a pot and a stove? Who needs an avocado slicer when you have a knife? I resisted getting a Microplane for years claiming my $2 handheld grater was good enough to get the job done. Maybe it's because many of these handy kitchen tools aren’t typically used in a commercial kitchen, and I thought if I didn’t need them at work, I didn’t need them at home. Maybe it’s just because I'd rather spend the money on a good bottle of wine. Despite my skepticism, there is one recent fad I couldn't resist...one whose praises are being sung all around the food blogging community. Last April I jumped onto the Instant Pot bandwagon and have never looked back.
You guys...this thing is amazing. Yes, it's sold as a 6-in-1 appliance or something, but honestly I'm probably never going to make homemade yogurt. “Ain't nobody got time for that.” The most exciting feature for me hands down is the pressure cooker. I think the Instant Pot makers just did a good job of making a pressure cooker safer and less intimidating. I was sold the minute I heard it could take frozen chicken to pulled chicken in 30 minutes. Whoa. I've been playing around with some recipes for several months now...some have been bombs but others have blown me away with the flavor and speed at which I can get dinner done. Fall off the bone ribs in 20 minutes? Barbacoa beef tacos in 60? Yes, please. It does have a bit of a learning curve, but if you like dinner done quick and don't like to babysit it, it's totally worth the investment.
I think typically a traditional Cuban sandwich has roasted pork, which would take a minimum of a few hours in the oven. My take on the sandwich uses the Instant Pot to pressure cook the pork until it pulls apart, and you get a very similar sandwich in less than half the time. If you don't have a Instant Pot, you can still use a slow cooker on high for 5 hours or a dutch oven at 325 F for about 3 hours. With the Instant Pot the whole recipe from start to finish takes about 1.5 hrs to prepare. Pretty impressive. These Cuban sliders are perfect for a game-watching party, and they save well too. Just wrap them up in the foil and reheat in a 350 F oven.
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Cuban Sliders (Instant Pot Recipe)
Yield: 12 sliders (3" x 3" each)
Special Equipment Needed:
Instant Pot (This is the one I have)
For slow cooker or dutch oven instructions see tips below.
Cast iron griddle (I used this one) (You can also use a sheet tray with bricks for weight.)
1.5 lbs. boneless pork shoulder (also called pork butt, Boston butt)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp. canola oil (or vegetable oil)
1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup orange juice
1 dozen white butter rolls (the kind that come in a tray. Hawaiian rolls would work too)
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
8 oz sliced deli honey ham (the sweet flavor here is key)
6 oz sliced Swiss (about 8-10 slices)
1 cup dill pickle chips
Yellow mustard, as needed
Plug in Instant Pot (for reference, I used a 6 qt.) and push the saute button. Cut the pork into 4 large chunks (cutting it down ensures more thorough cooking and flavor) and rub all sides with the salt, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, and black pepper. When the pot is hot, add the canola oil, and sear the pork on all sides until golden brown. Add the sliced onions and saute for about 5 minutes or until they are translucent (push them down to the bottom of the pan under the pork so they can brown and soak up all the extra fat and seasonings). Add the chicken stock, orange juice, and bay leaf (do this immediately if the onions start to burn). Cover the pot with the lid, slide to locked position, and be sure the vent is set to "sealed." Press the cancel button, then press the meat/stew button (or manual high pressure) and adjust the time to 45 minutes.
When the pork is almost done, preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking release spray. Slice the rolls horizontally through the middle for sandwiches (use a long, serrated bread knife if you have one). Spread half of the softened butter on the underside of the bottom bread. When the pork is done, open the vent and release the pressure. Use a slotted spoon or spider strainer to scoop out the pork into a separate dish, and break apart the meat with two forks or tongs (you don't want too much of the juices because it will make the sandwiches mushy on the bottom). Layer the sliders as follows: the bottom bread, pulled pork, ham, Swiss, pickles, and a good drizzle of mustard, and the top bread. Spread the last of the softened butter over the top of the bread. Put another layer of foil on top of the bread and then place a heavy cast iron griddle on top to press down the sliders (you can also use another baking sheet with a brick or two on top, or a couple heavy oven-safe skillets for weight - be creative here). Bake in a 400 F oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese has just melted. Remove from oven, slide the sandwiches onto a cutting board, cut into squares (or smaller slices), and serve hot.
If your pork cut has a LOT of very thick fat, trim that off before weighing it out to 1.5 lbs. If your cut of pork is mostly fat, that will melt away, and you won’t be left with a lot of meat.
For even more flavor using the instant pot, cook the pork a few hours before when you’ll need it. After you pull the pork, add it back to the pot with all the juices, put the lid back on, and let it sit for a couple hours on the “keep warm” setting. The meat will absorb even more flavor. Just be sure to strain the meat before assembling the sandwiches.
Slow Cooker instructions: Season and sear the pork and onions as instructed above in a pan on the stove, then transfer everything to slow cooker, add the liquids (I would double the liquids or until it at least halfway covers the pork) and slow cook on HIGH for about 5 hours or until the pork falls apart.
Dutch Oven instructions: Heat oil in dutch oven on medium high on stove. Season and sear pork and onions as instructed above in dutch oven. Add liquids (I would double the liquids or until it at least halfway covers the pork), put the lid on, and transfer to a 325 F oven for about 3 hours or until the pork falls apart.