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Published On: Mon, May 12th, 2008

Daily Dose of Sofrito: Chicago’s Jibarito Sandwich

In 2005, I had an opportunity to visit Chicago for a few days for a business conference and as soon as I arrived to the hotel my conference was being held at, I recieved an email on my blackberry from a friend Dulce Ramos. Dulce Ramos is a Chicago native and very successful woman that has an amazing career in real estate as well as very unique women’s shoe store called the Pump Room Boutique. I decided to call Dulce to let her know I was in town and before I knew it…she was at the Hotel picking me up to give me the Chicago Express Latino Tour.

You see…I had written an article inquiring about the existence of Latino Life in Chicago and Dulce really wanted to show me how proud the Boricuas are out in Paseo Boricua. What I encountered was fascinating, all these really nice shops and boutiques with very interesting themes and personality all of their own. She asked me if I wanted to have a "Jibarito" and I looked at her with a puzzled look…I had no idea what she was talking about. She took her time to explain it to me as we drove to a place called "Borinquen Restaurant" which is also known as the home of this Mysterious "Jibarito Sandwich". We get there and the place is hopping (es la hora de "lonche") and I am looking at the awesome artwork on the wall created by a local artist named "Cuca". The tables are actually hardwood and in the shape of Puerto Rico. I ordered a "Jibarito de Pollo" and when I got it, i was really taken back. It was a chicken sandwich with lettuce tomato and cheese…with tostones instead of bread with a little garlic drizzed on the top. This was soooo cool, I am having this really funky sandwich while Salsa is playing in the background in a place surrounded by Latinos.

It was so good I had to go back with my Fraternity brothers…Big shout out to the brothers of the Chi Chapter of Phi Iota Alpha, Inc who hosted me for the rest of my trip.

below is a recipe that a lady named Julia sent me from Chicago.

Get an authentic "Jibarito" when you are in Chicago…Find out how at www.borinquenrestaurant.com

A special thanks (y una abrazo) to Dulce Ramos for being a fantastic host and you can find out much more about her at www.DulceRamos.com and www.ThePumpRoomBoutique.com

As I am,
George Torres
The Urban Jibaro

Jibarito Recipe

JibaritoSource: Julia

The Puerto Rican style jibarito (pronounced hee-bah-ree-to) sandwich was created at the Borinquen Restaurant in Chicago by owner Juan "Peter" Figueroa. Here’s my take on making his famous jibarito at home. The plantain "bread slices" for this sandwich are most easily made if you have a large deep fryer, but it can also be done in a deep skillet with oil. I originally saw this made on FoodTV’s "Roker on the Road" (episode "On a Roll"). According to the Borinquen website, these sandwiches are known as "emparedado de platano" in Puerto Rico.

1 large green plantain, peeled and sliced lengthwise and in half (4 pieces)
oil (for deep frying)
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced onions
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1-2 pinch cayenne or dried chipotle powder, to taste
6 ounces shaved shoulder steak (or other tender cut such as flank, or thinly sliced chicken breast meat)
salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices American cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
romaine lettuce
thinly sliced tomatoes or roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon melted butter
1/4 teaspoon roasted minced garlic

2 servings 2 sandwiches

(Also, you will need 2 heavy cutting boards – rectangular ones work better with the shape of the plantain).

Heat oil, then fry the peeled and sliced plantain for 1 minute.

Remove plantain from oil, place on a heavy cutting board (if wooden, wrap board in plastic first, which will assist in the spreading of the softened plantain), top with another cutting board, and flatten the plantain between them.

Fry the now-flattened plantain in the oil again, until outside is golden and crispy; remove from oil, set aside on paper towels to blot oil, and keep warm.

Over medium high heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil together, then sauté the onions until just becoming soft.

Add the garlic, cumin, and cayenne (to taste), stir well, then add the meat slices and sauté until browned; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread mayonnaise on bottom slice of flattened fried plantain, lay down 2 slices of American cheese, then the meat and onions. Top with lettuce and thinly sliced tomato (or roasted red pepper), then the remaining plantain top.
Combine 1 teaspoon melted butter with 1/4 teaspoon roasted minced garlic, then brush the top plantain slice with the butter garlic mixture.

Repeat steps to make another sandwich.

Serve completed sandwiches with Arroz Con Gandules (Yellow Rice With Pigeon Peas).

Jibaritos can also made with other combinations of roast pork, white or dark chicken meat, vegetables or ham – don’t be afraid to experiment.

Daily Dose of Sofrito: Chicago’s Jibarito Sandwich