Saturday , 20 January 2018

Cuban Pork Rolls with Beans, Rice, and Squash


Alright do me a favor and when you look at the picture above, picture oozing warm cheese coming out of the middle of the roll.  Can you see it?  It’s there and tasty and calling your name.

Darnit.  I think that’s the problem when you make up your own recipes.  Since you’re just doing what feels right instead of following written/printed directions you forget steps!  As you can see from the picture above I forgot to put cheese in the middle of my rolls (darnit again!) realized halfway through the baking process and hurriedly scattered some over the top of the rolls.  Putting cheese on top of the rolls was a definite happy accident though and I adjusted the recipe below accordingly so that there’s cheese inside and on top.

And on a random side note – why is it the best meals I make always make for the worst photos?  I know it’s doesn’t look super awesome or colorful in the image but I swear to you this dinner was so good.  Please don’t rule it out because of the bad photo (I spent like an hour trying to edit them to make it at least half decent).

What brought this whole meal about?  Well we had an extremely limited amount of money for groceries last week (I hate transitioning between jobs.  There’s always that week where you’re broke as everything gets set up) so I had to get a bit more creative about dinner ideas.  Our funds really only allowed for the basic essentials – I’m talking milk, bananas, etc. the basic, basic stuff.

In my freezer I had two pork sirloin steaks weighing 12 oz and my normal pantry staples that I keep on hand.  In my CSA I had gotten what I think was a spaghetti squash and I wanted to use that up.  So the only thing I actually needed to buy for this recipe was a quarter pound of deli ham which costs me like $2.50 so this was a definite budget meal.

Let’s switch gears for a second.  I am in love with Cuban food – and I wish there was a authentic Cuban restaurant around here (I still haven’t made it to the Peruvian one) probably because Cubans, like Filipinos, love pork.  When my husband and I were in Vegas we had the most amazing Cuban sandwich from a Wolfgang Puck restaurant and the love affair was born.

A note – it would have been more authentic to use red beans or black beans in my side dish but all I had in the pantry was a can of pintos so those got thrown in instead.

Cuban Pork Rolls with beans, rice, and squash

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

Cuban Pork Rolls with beans, rice, and squash


    For the Cuban Pork Roll
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp dark rum
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 12 oz pork steaks or chops (either 2 or 4) pounded as thin as you can possibly get them, ideal would be about 1/8” thick – that way they’re easier to roll and it seems like you’re getting more.
  • ¼ lb thin sliced deli ham
  • ¼ lb sliced or shredded swiss (I actually used jalapeno jack because that’s what I had)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ Tbsp light mayo
  • Dill pickles – as many as you like, I used about 10 per roll
  • For the Rice, Beans, and Squash
  • ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, small dice
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, small dice
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 lb spaghetti squash (or any other winter squash) – peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • ½ cup tomato sauce (or if you’re me and out of tomato sauce use ketchup – don’t judge)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano (or regular if you don’t have Mexican on hand)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp brown sugar (if you use ketchup I’d skip the sugar since ketchup is pretty sugary to begin with)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • ¼ - ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped


  1. Combine orange juice through salt and pepper to make a marinade. Stir well to combine, then place pork in bowl. Let sit in fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 6 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 450. Remove pork from marinade and pound really thinly. I mean you need to beat this pork down and show it who's boss. If you get a small hole in it, don't worry, the ham will cover it and hold everything in.
  3. Mix together Dijon mustard and mayo, spread over inside of pork. Top with a layer of ham, then pickles, then cheese (making sure to reserve a bit). Roll up and place seam side down in a sprayed baking dish. Sprinkle reserved cheese over the tops of the rolls. Note – if you’ve only got 2 pork steaks, you’ll cut them in half after they’ve cooked to make 4 servings. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes until temperature of pork is 160 then cover with foil and let rest for at least 5 minutes.
  4. Steam squash until tender. I think I ended up steaming mine about 15 minutes while I cut all of the other vegetables. When done, remove from heat and keep covered until you’re ready to throw it in the skillet.
  5. Meanwhile, heat ½ tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until softened. Add in pepper and sauté an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Add in rice through salt and pepper. Stir well to get everything incorporated. Add in squash and stir well. Partially cover and simmer 5 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated and everything is nicely coated. Keep stirring until the squash has basically broken down and mixed in with all of the other ingredients. Taste and adjust any seasonings (More ketchup? More chili powder), splash in apple cider vinegar, stir and simmer an additional minute. Right before serving, stir in ¼ cup chopped cilantro. Serve with pork.

Ba-na-nas! (to quote Rachel Zoe – sorry her shows back on and I’ve gotten sucked in again). It’s not a super quick meal, it probably took me about 50 – 60 minutes from start to finish (cooking the rice, cutting everything, etc.) so don’t make it on a night where you’re in a huge rush (although you could definitely make the pork, cook the rice, and cut all of the veggies a day ahead and have dinner on the table in 25 on the day you cooked it.)

First off this meal was so tasty and really filling.  Yeah it’s not your typical 12 oz steak and potato meal (hey we are trying to keep it healthy here) but I’ve been making a conscious effort to cut our meat consumption down to healthy and reasonable levels i.e. 3oz of cooked meat per person at a meal.

And I’ll admit it was a bit starch/grain heavy between the rice, beans, and squash but I’m choosing to count the squash as the vegetable in the dish (along with the pickles).  Honestly we ended up splitting the side dish into 6 servings because it was such a huge portion.  I think you could probably increase the pork roll part of the recipe to serve 6, supplement with a small side salad and easily have dinner on the table for 6 people.

But yeah, maybe it was the dijonnaise mixture inside the roll but the pork came out extremely moist and flavorful.  Mix that with the tanginess from the side and it was a definite ‘I can’t talk to you because I’m too busy eating’ kind of dinner.

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  1. I’m so thankful you wrote down your recipe — sometimes “inspirations” don’t make it to the photo finish. 🙂 And by the way, your photo looks perfectly yummy to me!
    Kimby recently posted..Saturday Night SundaesMy Profile

  2. This is making me want rice and beans!

  3. Wow that rolls looks moist and juicy.
    Raymund recently posted..Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Summer Rolls)My Profile

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