Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Inspiration from the Movies

People find movies inspirational for all sorts of reasons and take away all sorts of motivations from those that strike a chord with them.  Some take away lessons on life, finding characters that overcome the odds or stand up against oppression and adversity.  However, the inspiration that this post is going to focus on isn't from a classic like Dead Poets Society or The Shawshank Redemption.  I recently took inspiration from the film  'Chef' written by, directed by and starring Jon Favreau. 

Chef was released in cinemas this year and was a heart-warming, uplifting film about a chef who reignites his creativity when he starts a new business after losing his restaurant job as a result of a clash with a high-profile food critic on twitter.  Favreau plays the successful chef Carl Casper with Dustin Hoffman playing the owner of the restaurant that he works at, where Scarlett Johansson is the waitress.  When everything goes wrong, his ex-wife presents him with the idea of taking an old truck and turning it into a successful business.  He's joined on his trip across America by his faithful colleague Martin, played by John Leguizamo and his tech-savvy young son, Percy.  

Full of lively and infectious music, fun, optimism, fantastic food and Robert Downey Jr, I'd say this movie is certainly a crowd-pleaser.  Be sure not to see it on an empty stomach though.  Of all the things I took from this film, it was the inspiration to make a Cuban sandwich, aka a Cubano. 

This film inspired me to buy a cafe-style sandwich press, specifically the Breville VST025, and a meat thermometer.  You see, in the film, when Casper stops making the same old menu that his boss insists he sticks to, he finds his niche with Cubanos.  After seeing them, and having them described on the screen, I just had to make one.   I found the recipe online and share it with you below.
It's all down to chef Roy Choi, co-producer of the movie and founder of a branded fleet of taco trucks and owner of several restaurants in Los Angeles.  At the heart of the sandwich is his Mojo pork recipe. To start with, in large bowl, whisk 2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil, a tablespoon of orange zest, half a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice, half a cup of freshly squeezed lime juice, 7 minced cloves of garlic, 2/3 cup of coriander leaves,1/4 cup of chopped mint, 1 tablespoon of minced oregano, 1 teaspoon of cumin and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Then you add 1.8 to 2.7 kg of boneless pork shoulder. Turn the pork until well coated all over before transferring it all to a large, re-sealable plastic bag. Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate, turning occasionally,  for between 12 to 24 hours.
So, that's quite a bit of preparation before you roast it, uncovered, in a preheated 425F (220C) oven for 30 minutes.  Then baste it with the  pan juices. Reduce the heat to 375F (190C). Roast, basting every half hour, until the instant-read thermometer inserted in the centre registers 160F (71C), for between 90 to 120 minutes.  Then you've got your sandwich filling to slice as you want.
Heat 6 thin slices of normal, supermarket-standard ham and the sliced Mojo pork on the sandwich press. Cook, turning once, until warmed and browned in spots, for just about 1 minute and then rest them on a plate.
Cut a large white baguette  into three or four pieces and split lengthwise.   Butter the cut sides generously and toast on the press until lightly browned, which should take a minute or two.   Then put them aside and layer the bottom of the buns with the pork, ham, slices of Swiss cheese and pickles (I omitted the pickles).  Next, brush the inside of the bun tops with mustard, close the sandwiches and generously butter the outsides.  Place on the press and cook until the cheese melts and the outsides are browned and crispy, which should take around 3 minutes.
What are the movies going to inspire me to do next?

Chef is released on DVD, Blu Ray and On-Demand from 4th November 2014 in UK (where I live) and is one of the most enjoyable movies to arrive this year.