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Turn succulent, slow-roasted pork into crispy medianoche sandwiches

Though classic Cubano sandwiches get most of the attention, the slightly sweeter medianoche is a star in its own right.
/ Source: TODAY

Pernil, Puerto Rican slow-cooked pork shoulder, is a perfect culinary example of the saying "slow and steady wins the race." The long and low-temp cooking method makes the pork impossibly tender and juicy while rendering the skin irresistibly crispy. Food and lifestyle expert Alejandra Ramos is joining TODAY to share her family recipe for the most amazing pernil and turns the leftovers into crisp, cheesy, pork-filled medianoche sandwiches.

This marinated and slow-roasted pork shoulder is often the star of just about any Puerto Rican holiday party or family gathering, but the features that make it such a perfect recipe for entertaining and celebrations also make it an ideal make-ahead dish for busy weekdays. Prep and marinate the pork shoulder over the weekend and let it cook all day in an oven while you go about your day. On Day 1, it'll make a perfect meal along with your favorite sides like rice or vegetables. Then use the leftovers to make tasty Cuban medianoche sandwiches or quick pork tacos, or you could even sauté them into a hash with potatoes and top with a fried egg for a filling breakfast. Just like with all traditional family recipes, there are many different versions of pernil, but this is the one I have made for my family for years.

Cuban Medianoche Sandwiches

Though classic Cubano sandwiches get most of the attention, my own personal favorite has always been the slightly sweeter medianoche. The name means "midnight" in Spanish and comes from the idea that it was the sandwich enjoyed as a late-night snack (or even an early breakfast!) after hours spent dancing salsa in Havana and Miami. The fillings of roast pork, ham, pickles, cheese and mustard are the same as a Cubano but it's the sweet, slightly eggy bread that makes it a star. Like classic Cuban sandwiches, medianoches are pressed on a griddle, cut on an angle and enjoyed hot.

If you like those make-ahead recipes you should also try these:

Sunny Citrus Sheet-Pan Pancakes