This sandwich is bananas! You need a Cuban jibarito recipe in your life. There’s never been a hotter time to visit Cuba, but if it’s not next on your fantasy travel list, there’s Cuba! It’s a collection of 75 authentic recipes gathered by the photographer-stylist team of Dan Goldberg and Andrea Kuhn, along with food writer Jody Eddy, that will bring a taste of Havana (and elsewhere) right to your home kitchen.
The jibarito originated in a Puerto Rican restaurant in Chicago when its owner read about a sandwich assembled with fried plantains instead of bread. This is our version of it, dreamed up while we were enjoying one in that restaurant. Our version uses chicken instead of steak, as chicken is much more affordable. If you prefer dark meat to white, substitute five boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the breasts. Either way, they’ll be exalted with a heaping spoonful of the green olive aioli included here.
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup bottled sour orange juice, or 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice mixed with 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for deep-frying
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 4 green plantains, peeled and halved both lengthwise and crosswise
- 2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce and arugula
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
Green Olive Aioli (makes about 1 cup)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup chopped green olives
- freshly ground pepper
For the aioli
Sprinkle the salt over the minced garlic on a cutting board and use the side of a knife to mash the salt into the garlic, making a paste. Stir the garlic paste into the mayonnaise, then add the lemon juice, green olives, and pepper to taste. Taste and add salt and lemon juice, if necessary.
For the jibarito
Drop the garlic, one clove at a time, into a food processor with the motor running. When all of the garlic is chopped, add the cumin, oregano, salt, and juice. Process until the mixture is foamy and well blended.
Place the chicken in a large ziplock bag and pour the marinade over it. Refrigerate for 2 hours, turning occasionally to redistribute the marinade.
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Remove the chicken, reserving the marinade. Pat the chicken dry using paper towels. Heat the oil over high heat in a heavy-bottomed skillet, preferably cast iron. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Carefully add the chicken to the pan using tongs. Brown one side, then flip and brown the second side. When the chicken is browned all over, pour in the reserved marinade and the stock. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and place it in the oven. Let the chicken braise until it is fork-tender, about 1 hour.
Remove the chicken from the skillet and set it aside to cool slightly. Place the skillet containing the braising liquid over high heat and reduce it by about one quarter.
Using two forks, pull apart the chicken into generous bite-size chunks. Add a few spoonfuls of the reduced braising liquid to the chicken and toss to coat. Taste and add salt if necessary. Set the chicken aside.
Heat at least 4 inches of oil in a large, heavy pot to 325°F. Add the plantain pieces to the hot oil and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the pieces float. Remove the plantains from the oil using a slotted spoon and transfer them to paper towels to drain. Increase the heat under the frying oil and allow the oil to heat to 375°F. When the plantains are just cool enough to handle, smash them flat with a heavy pan or by placing them between two cutting boards and pressing down. Return the plantains to the hot oil until they are crispy, about 5 minutes.
To assemble the sandwiches, spread Green Olive Aioli on a piece of plantain. Top with chicken chunks, lettuce, tomato, and another piece of plantain spread with the aioli. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve warm.