This is a great hors d'oeuvres that I came up with recently for a party.  This was a party that I was really struggling with ideas on what to make.  With me that is usually the case.  Sometimes the hardest decision a chef/cook has, is, what to make? because there are so many different things a versatile chef can prepare depending on what is available and how much time one has.  I seemed to always be pressed for time whether it is because of short notice or because I'm trying to squeeze in a work out or driving all over town trying to find ingredients.  Sometimes one of the biggest reasons I'm pressed for time is because I do too much.  Regardless, I'm always trying to push myself to make things I haven't made before or present things in a way that is new to me.  I also take into consideration what I have made recently as far as flavors because I don't want things to all taste the same.  As you can imagine that is real challenge but for chef's that is the challenge, the drive, that pushes the great chef's of the world to keep innovating food.  Now, I'm pretty sure I'm not the first to make a mini Cuban sandwich but I do think I have put some twist on things to make things a little different and interesting.  First being I'm not using pork, I'm using Kobe short ribs.  Second my bun is actually a pate a choux dough with fried plantain.  My sofrito I mixed in black beans as well as the braising liquid from the short ribs.   Add a spoonful of grilled guacamole and the result was a delicious bite that packed quite a punch!

Recipe

2lbs boneless kobe short ribs cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces

1 onion

1 bell pepper

1 habenero

1 jalapeno

10 garlic cloves rough chopped

3 tomatoes or 1 can of tomatoes

2 tbsp of ground cumin

1 tbsp oregano

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp of chopped parsley

4 cups of chicken stock

3 tbsp of olive oil

Salt and pepper

Plantain bun

3 black ripened plantains cut in half and sliced 1/4 inch thick

6 tbsp of vegetable oil

Pate a choux

1 cup water

1 stick of butter

1 cup of flour

4 eggs

1 tsp of sugar

1 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp of fresh nutmeg

Black bean sofrito

1 onion small diced

1 green bell pepper small diced

4 garlic cloves minced

1 tomato small diced

1 cup of cooked black beans

1 cup of braising liquid

1 tbsp of chopped cilantro

2 tbsp of olive oil

Guacamole

3 Avocados pitted and diced

1 jalapeno small diced

1 small onion grilled and chopped(with smoke if possible)

2 tbsp of chopped cilantro

1 lime juiced

Salt 

For the short ribs season aggressively with salt in pepper on both sides.  In a large braising pot on high heat add olive oil and the short ribs.  Sear on the first side for about 3 minute and then flip over.  Cook for another three minutes on the second side and then take the kobe pieces in the middle of the pot and stack them on the pieces around the outside of the pot leaving you a hole in the middle of the pot.  Add the onion, peppers, garlic, oregano, cumin, bay leaf,  and parsley into that hole.  Cook for 1 minute then add the tomatoes and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and cover.  Cook for about 2 1/2 hours or until fork tender.  Then take the short ribs out and place all the liquid into a vita mix and puree until smooth.  Place the liquid back in the pot along with the short ribs to stay warm on low heat.  This can be done in advance and then reheated when you need it. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Meanwhile as the short ribs are cooking you can prepare the plantain buns.  In a large saute pan or cast iron skillet place 3 tbsp of vegetable oil in the pan and turn on medium high.  Place half of the sliced plantains in the skillet and pan fry for about 2 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown on each side. (I say pan fried but people who are used to frying plantains use a lot of oil. you don't need that much oil for this application and you don't want overly oily plantains in your dough)  Drain on a paper towel and repeat the process until all the plantains are fried. Once the plantain are cooled place in a food processor and pulse until you have very small pieces of plantain mixed with pureed plantain.  Set aside until ready to use.

In small sauce pot add 1 cup of water, 1 stick of butter, sugar,  and salt.  bring to boil and turn down to a simmer until the butter is completely dissolved.  Once the butter is completely dissolved add the flour and with a wooden spoon mix completely until you have formed a smooth dough.  Turn off the heat of the pot and stir for 1 minute.  Transfer the dough to a kitchen aid mixer.  Using a paddle attachment whip the dough and gradually add the 4 eggs one at a time until you have a really smooth dough.  Add the plantain mixture and nutmeg to finish the dough.  Place the dough into a piping bag fitted with a plain tip.   On a sheet pan lined with a silt mat or parchment paper, pipe mini sandwich rounds.  continue until all the dough is complete.  It will make around 40 pieces roughly.  Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes and then turn down to 350 for another 10 minutes.  These will not puff up quite like a cream puff because of the weight of the plantain but they will still be light and soft. 

For the black bean sofrito, add oil, onions, garlic, and bell peppers to a medium hot saute pan.  Season with two pinches of salt and saute for 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add braising liquid and black beans and stew the vegetables for 20 - 30 minutes or until all the liquid is almost gone.  Season with salt and cilantro.  I don't think you will need pepper because the braising liquid should be somewhat spicy. 

For the guacamole place all the ingredients in a bowl.  With a whisk smash the avocados and mix thoroughly.  Season aggressively with salt and set aside.

To plate this tiny bite of work, cut the plantain bun in half.  Place a small piece of short rib on the bottom half.  Season the short rib with a few grains of salt.  Place the sofrito on top of the short rib and a spoonful of guacamole on top of that.  Top of the mini sandwich with the top bun and serve!

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