This one reminds me of my abuelito.
I can imagine him carefully tending to the pork, standing over the stove, gently nudging it, easing it to cook just a little bit faster. The kitchen always smelled so tantalizingly delicious. The waiting part was difficult — often two hours or more. Especially if company was coming over…and if you didn’t already know, Peruvian people are notorious for being fashionably late to any social function. If you tell them to come at 6 PM, plan for an 8 PM arrival. This is not a stereotype. It’s a Fact.
Once everyone was gathered and the preliminary greeting hugs and kisses were passed, we would all sit down and enjoy our sandwiches. And boy was it quiet. It certainly takes something monumental to hush an entire crowd of Peruvians (because, let me just tell you, we be crazy. I mean, you didn’t think that people who eat whole eggs in their soups would be normal, right?), but this always does the trick. Good thing to jot down, in the event you come across one of us at your next party.
This is one of those sandwiches that you wolf down like a rabid animal, forgetting to chew properly, or even breathe. Your eyes bulge slightly, ever so slightly, as you cannot believe the luck bestowed upon you for being given the opportunity to eat such delicacy. One more thing. You don’t share this. I turn into a selfish, egocentric toddler when I have this hoisted between my hands.
I don’t care that it’s bigger than my face, I will finish the whole thing, damnit!
I get a little possessive with my food.
Translated, jamón del país means country ham. It’s a traditional northern Peruvian method for cooking pork shoulder or butt over the stove, marinated in the usual suspects: garlic, oregano, paprika or achiote, and cumin. The smell alone as it simmers away can make you go googly with lust. I oftentimes find myself at the stove, just like my abuelito does, anxiously poking at the pork with my fork to see if it’s done yet.
Layer this sammich with a red onion relish, mayo, and mustard on crunchy baguette, and you got yourself a wonderful thing. Eat it up before your neighbor starts eyeing it. Quickly, now. There you go.
Sandwich de Jamón del País
Prep Time: 10 minutes to prepare marinade; 48 hours to marinate pork
Cook Time: 2 hours
For the marinade:
1 – 5 lb. pork shoulder or butt; deboned and fat trimmed
1 T. minced garlic
2 T. salt
1 T. paprika or achiote
1 T. cumin
1 t. oregano
1 large yellow onion; quartered
2 T. salt
For the relish:
[ingredients updated 1/8/12]
1 medium red onion, cut in half and separate and use only tender inner layers, sliced extremely thin
Serrano jalapeño chile, sliced into rounds seeds and all 4 1 very juicy lime; juiced
Salt and pepper
1 French baguette; cut and halved into serving size portions
Mayonnaise, preferably homemade
Combine the garlic, salt, paprika/achiote, cumin, and oregano together in a small bowl. Slather the pork with the marinade, covering the outside and inside with it. Tie the pork together with kitchen twine to hold together. Place the pork in a plastic bag and allow to marinate for 48 hours in the fridge.
[preparation updated 1/8/12] To prepare the red onion relish, put the sliced red onions into a small bowl and cover with cold water to soak for 30 minutes — this helps soothe the bitter bite that comes naturally with red onions. Drain and then toss in the jalapeño chiles, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and stash in fridge until ready for use.
On cooking day, place the pork in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover it entirely. Scatter the onion quarters and salt into the water; mix. Bring the water to a boil, then lower to a simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Then, flip the pork over to the other side, allowing to simmer for another 1 hour.
Take the pork out of the water and allow to rest for about 15 minutes before cutting the twine and carving.
Slice the pork thinly and serve on toasted baguette with mayo, mustard, and red onion relish with the lime juice.