Since I cook a lot, we always have leftovers. I had about 1 lb of pulled pork left over from Sunday’s Momofuku Ramen bowl, so I wanted to use them as an ingredient for Wednesday night’s dinner. Initially I thought about making Cuban Sandwiches, but I came across this recipe for a Supersize Cemita Sandiwich that seemed perfect for what I had. A Cemita Sandwich is a Mexican style sandwich made with a big sesame egg roll, avocados, lettuce, mexican style string cheese, meat, and a red sauce. The sesame seeds in the roll is the differentiator between Cemitas and the more well known Torta sandwiches. The meat can be prepared in many different ways, some times a thinly pounded piece of pork or beef steak is breaded and panfried, other times slow roasted pork or beef is used.

You can follow the recipe to make the pulled pork, but since I already had some on hand, I started on the sauce.
The red sauce is made from Chipotle peppers, orange and lime juices, honey, tomatoes, and onions. The recipe I found used dry Chipotle peppers, and while it’s probably more authentic, I didn’t have the time to make the sauce from scratch. Instead, I used one small can of prepared Chipotle pepper in sauce, blended it with a 14 oz can of tomatoes, 1/2 an onion, 2 TB of lime juice, and 2 TB of honey.

After the sauce was made, I warmed up the pork and the sauce in a pot for about 15 minutes on low to medium heat. You want to gently bring up the temperature evenly and make sure that the pork and sauce are heated through. Then I transferred the pork into a small baking dish, spread about 1/4lb of Oxacan string cheese all over the meat, and stuck it in a 300 degree oven for about 10 -15 minutes. You want to get the cheese melted and soft all over before taking it out. You can use Panela, or even mozzarella cheese if no specialty cheese is available.

I bought two giant (almost 8 inchs diameter) Muffaletta rolls for the bread. Traditionally, you use Cemita bread from Mexico, but I think any soft rolls with sesame seeds on top would do.

The genius aspect of the Cemita recipe I used is that it calls for refried beans to be spread on both sides of the bun. Instead of making my own, I walked down the street to the neighborhood Mexican restaurant and got a side of refried beans. You can used canned refried beans or make your own if you have the time.

The warmed pulled pork and cheese is then placed on top of the bottom half of the roll, then topped with lettuce and avocado. I really like pickled jalapenos, so if you feel like adding some kick to your Cemita, you can add some jalapenos or fresh sliced tomatoes to taste.

Now since these are very large rolls and they each have about 1/2lb of pulled pork plus the toppings, it’s a good idea to cut the sandwich in half. To aid in halving the sandwich, I first wrapped the sandwich in wax paper, then I wrapped it again in foil. This really helps hold all the ingredients and the layers of the sandwich together, and the layer of wax paper keeps little pieces of tin foil from getting mixed up in your sandwich.

Overall, it was a success, and it is a recipe I will visit again. There are many different versions of Cemitas out there, and I think it’s worth it to mix things up and do it to your personal taste. A vegetarian variation is to substitute fried tofu for the pork, which I think will work very well.

NYMAG Supersize Cemita Recipe from Cabrito: http://nymag.com/listings/recipe/supersize-cemita/
Epicurious Cemita Recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chile-Marinated-Pork-Sandwiches-on-Cemita-Rolls-109444

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