Renee's Kitchen Adventures: RITZ Cuban Minis

Monday, January 13, 2014

RITZ Cuban Minis


I have to confess...I am really NOT much of a football fan, although I hear we are down to the final four teams for the Big Game. 

It's because I'm not much of a football fan, when the Big Game rolls along this time of year, I don't get too excited.  That is...until I think about the food!!!  Football food.  I AM a HUGE fan of football food!


This year's Big Game is scheduled for the February 2, and it is going to be played in a city I hold near and dear to my heart...New York City.  (Well...technically, it's Jersey, SHHHH, but don't tell anyone!) 

Ritz Crackers and Allrecipes have put together a spectacular campaign called Ritz NY Blitz!  A collection of game day bites for your party inspired by the great city of New York!!!  Eight Allrecipes Allstars (including myself) were chosen to create a dish that celebrates all things New York using crisp, buttery Ritz Crackers.  In addition to our original recipes,  4 chefs from several iconic restaurants created recipes too! (Disclaimer:  I received product for free from Ritz crackers in order to develop an original recipe and give an honest review.  The opinions expressed, photos, and recipe in this post are my own.) 

http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/Trusted-Brands-Recipes-and-Tips/RITZ/Main.aspx?prop24=hn_browsedeeper&evt19=1


My love affair with NYC started way, way back when my mom gave me a trip to this great city to celebrate my 18th birthday.  ( Yikes!  That's like decades ago.)  Since that very first visit, my heart just skips a beat every time I enter the city.  My brother moved out there when he was in his young 20's, so I have had ties with the city for almost 30 years!  I been there more times than I can count and each time I visit, I seem to experience something different.

Some of my favorite places to visit are...

Chelsea Market, Chelsea
I love Chelsea Market. Honestly, what self proclaimed "foodie" wouldn't?   Such a fantastic collection of food shops, restaurants, and several working bakeries are housed in this historic building. 

Sarabeth's
Love, love, love this place.  Yes, it can be a bit of a tourist trap, but it is know for it's breakfast menu and there is a good reason why....simple food done to perfection!  I prefer the Upper West Side location, but I'm not picky as long as I can get my Goldie Lox (fluffy scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and cream cheese).

Central Park
I love Central Park.  I love it in the spring, summer, winter and fall.  Each season offers something different. 

Metropolitan Museum of Art
 I love all the museums in the city.

Gershwin Theatre
I LOVE Broadway!!! 

NYC food!
And the number ONE thing I love about NYC is the FOOD!  The endless choices of incredible cuisines just waiting to be discovered!


When Allrecipes and Ritz Crackers asked me to develop a game day recipe representing the Cuban Connection in NYC, I was surprised.  Cuban culture is not my first thought when I think of all the things NYC has to offer...but...it is a city of great diversity, so I did some research.  What I found was that in the 1950's NYC did, indeed, have a huge population of Cuban immigrants.   It has, over the years weaned, but NYC and it's surrounding areas (including New Jersey) remain today the second highest areas in the country for Cuban immigrants next to Florida. Today, you will find the biggest concentration of people of Cuban decent/immigrants  living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and areas in New Jersey just west of the Hudson River. 

Naturally, my mind went to developing a game day bite that encompassed the flavors of perhaps the most popular Cuban dish around, The Cubano.  You can find this sandwich on the menus of most Cuban restaurants from "5 star establishments" to corner lunch spots.  One of the most famous Cuban restaurants in the city is Victor's Cafe, located on West 52nd Street, between Broadway and 8th Ave.  This iconic establishment has been in business for over 50 years!  They have a Cubano on their menu, but as reviews go, the best Cubano can be found at a small lunch counter in Harlem called La Flor De Broadway.  It is said they serve the "El Rey de Sandwich Cubano" or the "King of the Sandwich Cubano."

My Ritz Cuban Minis have all the flavors of the traditional Cubano, in a bite sized form.  They are quick and easy to prepare, thanks to fully cooked (sauceless) pulled pork from your grocer's refrigerated section.  The recipe calls for them to be served with two crackers, one on the bottom and one on top, making it a true "sandwich", but I preferred the taste by serving it open faced, with just a cracker on the bottom.  It's your choice! Since this sandwich is such simple preparation, be sure to all the ingredients you use, you enjoy the taste of....like your favorite mustard or brand of sliced pickle.

You can heat the pulled pork up in the microwave to make it a little easier to work with, but the key to success is to make sure you get it as dry as possible, so the bottom cracker doesn't get soggy. (see the recipe directions for details)  

Give your game day spread a little NY kick with this recipe as well as the other fabulous Ritz Game Day Bites developed for this campaign! Visit the Game Day Hub on Allrecipes for the complete collection.




Ritz Cuban Minis
(an original recipe developed by Renee's Kitchen Adventures by to the request of Ritz Crackers)


Servings:  20 mini bites    Serving Size:  1 mini bite   Point Plus per Serving:  3 Points+
Calories: 106,   Total Fat: 5g,   Carb: 7g,   Protein: 7.9g,   Fiber: 0.1g

Ingredients:
1 - 16oz. fully cooked, prepackaged container of pulled pork, without the sauce*
10 slices of thin cut smoked deli ham, cut in half
5 thin slices of baby Swiss cheese, cut into quarters
20 Kosher dill pickle chips, cut in half
1/4 cup Dijon mustard (or your favorite grainy mustard)
40 Ritz crackers
20 frilled toothpicks (optional)

Directions:
  1. Preheat broiler on HIGH. Set an oven rack about 5 to 6 inches from the heat source. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
  2. With two forks, break apart any large chunks of the packaged pulled pork. Place the pork between several layers of paper towels and press, to get it as dry as possible. (This will help prevent the cracker from softening before serving.)
  3. To assemble sandwiches: Place 20 RITZ Crackers, flat side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Top each with approximately 1 tablespoon pulled pork. Next, fold a 1/2 slice of ham into thirds and place on top of pulled pork. Then, top ham with the quarter-slices of baby Swiss cheese.
  4. Place the baking sheet 6-inches under the broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from broiler.
  5. Top each mini bite with a 1/2 pickle slice and about 1/2 tsp. mustard then top with remaining crackers, flat side down.
  6. Optional: Gently insert a fancy toothpick into the middle hole of the RITZ Cracker to help hold it together.
  7. Serve immediately.
*If you cannot find sauce-less fully cooked pulled pork, you can use the kind with the sauce.  Just rinse the sauce from the meat under running water and dry well between several layers of paper towels.  It will have a bit of the BBQ flavor, but it won't be overwhelming.  Other alternatives to the prepackaged pulled pork would be  cooked pork tenderloin or your own slow cooked pork shoulder or sirloin.  However, if you substitute, the nutrition information provided in this recipe may change.

This recipe can also be found on Allrecipes 

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 This recipe is so super easy you can throw it together in minutes!  The key to success, again, is to be sure your pulled pork has as much moisture pulled out of it as possible.  The crackers tend to dissolve when allowed to get too wet. 

Later this week, I will also be bringing you one of the delicious recipes created by the iconic NYC restaurant Serendipity!  SO STAY TUNED!  I'm so excited, because I've reworked the original recipe to lower the overall fat and calorie counts and make it just a bit more figure friendly! 

Be sure to check out all of the blogs of the 8 Allstars participating in this campaign!  There are some amazing recipes out there! 



Do you have some favorite football food recipes?  Share them in the comments!



This post is being shared with:
Share Your Stuff Tuesdays #30
Talking Tuesdays-Over the Fence #11 
Memories by the Mile/ Treasure Box Tuesdays #2
Tasty Tuesdays/Anyonita Nibbles 
Wonderfully Creative Wednesdays/Mom's Test Kitchen 
FoodieFriendsFriday/In the Kitchen with Jenny

Looking for more?
Try this iconic NYC treat from Winelady Cooks...Black and White Cookies! 

16 comments:

  1. It always crackers me up to hear that the super bowl is in NY...I'm like umm...these look delicious! And such a great use for ritz! THey're so buttery and delicious!

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    1. lol....yup! Poor Jersey, just can't get any love! lol

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  2. These look so good! I love Ritz crackers! Awesome post! <3

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    1. Thank you!! I hope that you will give this recipe a try! :)

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  3. It seems you could make this with your own slow cooker pulled pork, a sort of two-fer (these Ritz mini cubans and pulled pork for another dish), but, great idea even without the pulled pork (which I know is essential to a Cuban sandwich).

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    Replies
    1. YES! you could absolutely use your own cooked pulled pork! you could also use any kind of pork sirloin, slow cooked and pulled. The idea of using the prepackaged stuff is merely a convenience I'm so glad you brought this option up...and thanks for visiting! .

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  4. I'm with ya, football food is the best part of football! And I love some Ritz!

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    Replies
    1. Ritz crackers are so delicious! I agree!

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  5. Ok, so I live in New York State and it seems you've been to the city way more than I have ever been ( which is 2 times my entire life!) lol. Love your post and your creation looks great!

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    1. lol...yes, I love me some NYC...I try to get there a couple times a year! Of course, it helps that we can stay with my brother and his family!

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  6. I love NYC, too! This is such a great idea for an appetizer. I love those flavors together.

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  7. I love NYC too! These little appetizers would be great for game day! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Michele! There is just so much to love about NYC, isn't there? Makes it easy!

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  8. G'day! Everything's better when it sits on a ritz! :)
    Thanks for sharing!
    Cheers! Joanne
    Viewed as part of the Foodie Friends Friday Recipes that tell a Story

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