I had the perfect opportunity to make this dish for a dinner with a good friend of mine from college, Erin. Erin and I were classmates in the Syracuse University Drama Department and we lived together in our semester abroad in London. In our flat, we would make dinners of chicken cooked in red wine and call it gourmet. The chicken was purple. And we loved it. And then we'd eat a whole package of Digestives and dance around in our living room to the Big Chill Soundtrack.
Cool fact about Erin: Her father invented many flavors of bubble gum, like Grape (yes, grape) and Hawaiian Punch. He is a flavor expert. Seriously. That is his job. Apparently, you walk into different "labs" and the room will smell like, say, Thanksgiving dinner. But there is no turkey. Oh no. Just a lab. That smells like turkey and cranberry.
Where can I get this job? Without that whole nuisance of getting a chemistry degree. And then I'll be an ice cream tester and a video gamer on the side.
Needless to say, I was dealing with a very advanced palate here. But I can be assured one thing during this Top Chef Challenge: the dishes will always be winners. Which is why they were winners, I guess.
Speaking of advanced palates (like what I did there?) this episode began with the taste challenge that we all know and love: identify as many flavors as possible whilst blindfolded. Simple you say? Well, I think the chefs would disagree. The winning chef won with only four ingredients identified correctly. In a bit of revenge, the cheftestants held their own "Snack Master Challenge" back at their apartment, where Miguel (aka Chunk LeFunk) proudly took home the crown by identified such challenging dishes as Whoppers, Doritos, and pork and beans.
The elimination challenge was to cook street food to serve in a Hispanic district in Los Angeles by doing a fusion with Latin Food and another flavor. Well, who would have known that a dish like a pork sandwich would go so well with Moroccan flavors? Now, there is the minor fact that most Moroccans would probably be mortally offended by calling this dish Moroccan, being Muslim and not being able to eat pork and all, but you can't win them all, right?
My favorite Stephen Moment of the Episode: when he says that the Hispanic people aren't in his "target market" for this challenge (um, Stephen, you are in the Mission District. Hispanics are the market) whilst wearing an orange tie and pinstriped suit.
Dave and Tiffani joined forced to invent this amazing dish. And when I say amazing, I mean BEST DISH EVER. BEST DISH EVER. Can I say it again? BEST. DISH. EVER.
Succulent pork. Complex stone fruit chutney filled with raisins, apricots, and almonds and seasoned with curry and honey. Pickled carrots and onions. Creamy date puree. Subtle white cheese. Soft, fluffy gorditas. Happy Teanna. Happy Erin. Happy Jack.
I cannot express how much I think everyone in the entire world should make this dish. It is worth the time. The pork is to die for. Tender pork butt is seared and then tenderized in beef stock and mirepoix for 45 minutes and leaves you with the most tender, succulent (I know I said it before, but I must say it again) meat that you will ever taste.
Make it. Then invite me over for dinner. I'll even wear an orange tie and tell you what a gaufrette is in honor of Stephen.
Moroccan Cubano Pork Sandwich adapted from Top Chef