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By Bethany Jean Clement

Seattle Times Food Writer

No one had a chance to go to Paseo one last time—that’s what has made Seattle’s great sandwich trauma of 2014 so traumatic. Last week’s overnight shutdown, followed by Paseo’s declaration of bankruptcy, meant that nobody got to say goodbye, using even more napkins than usual to soak up their tears along with the mess from their very last bites of Paseo pork. (It might’ve been construed as a sign of trouble, but last month’s lawsuit in which some former employees alleged they hadn’t been paid overtime or allowed breaks — allegations Paseo denied — went unnoticed.)

If you could’ve gotten just one more Paseo sandwich… Maybe you even could’ve figured out how to make a replica of it at home, whenever you wanted, for eternity, via some clever reverse-engineering and experimentation. Good news: Paseo devotee Lorna Yee thought of that back in 2010, when she was contemplating all the food she loves the most for her cookbook The Newlywed Kitchen, written with Ali Basye.

“The process was pretty rudimentary,” Yee says. “I bought a Paseo sandwich, then ate bites of it whole and bites of it in separate components. Yes, that involved licking the sauce — sorry for the visual.”

Yee already knew the secret of the bread: As court documents revealed last week, it was from Macrina, but she’d called Paseo and wrung that information out of them years ago. While the fans’ hopes for the full recipe remains unfulfilled as yet, the court documents also gave the source of Paseo’s pork: Sea Bend Meat Company, owned by the Ciez family in Shoreline for 25 years. Unfortunately for aspirants to exact duplication, Sea Bend is wholesale only, though it’s helpful to note that the pork probably wasn’t any fancy heritage breed; Sea Bend says it sources from “national pork producers.” (Pressed for more information on Paseo and its past orders, they invoked client-meat company privilege.)

The recipe in Yee’s cookbook doesn’t specify Macrina baguette, as there are those who have the misfortune of living outside Macrina range, but that’s what she used at home, making the recipe several times with friends on hand as taste-testers. “It’s not 100% exact,” Yee says. “The pork marinade I use is a little more flavorful than Paseo’s — that was just a personal preference.” And her guess on Paseo’s aioli might sound heretical; yes, it’s got fresh minced garlic, but it’s also got garlic salt and sweet relish. Relish might sound sideways, but it is the secret of many a secret sauce, and Yee’s research supported the choice. She confirms: “Yes, I discerned sweet pickle relish — when I scientifically licked the sauce.”

Yee wants you to know that she’s definitely not claiming her version of Paseo is a perfect copy, just maybe “close enough.” At any rate, taking the time to make it — and then eating it — might help with the healing.

Cuban Roast Sandwiches

(Copyright 2010 by Lorna Yee and Ali Basye. All rights reserved. Excerpted from The Newlywed Kitchen by permission of Sasquatch Books.)

For the roast pork:

3 ½ pounds bone-in pork shoulder, or 3 pounds boneless

10 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 cups orange juice

½ cup lime juice

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup (about 1 large) diced onion

2 bay leaves

For the garlic mayonnaise:

2 tablespoons finely minced garlic

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

1 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons sweet relish

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the sandwiches:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, cut into ¾-inch rings

Six 7-inch-long pieces baguette, split, toasted, and buttered

12 to 18 sprigs of cilantro

Pickled jalapenos

Romaine lettuce leaves

  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the pork, garlic, salt, pepper, orange juice, lime juice, brown sugar, oregano, olive oil, onion, and bay leaves. Seal the bag and place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. To make the roast pork, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Remove the pork from the bag, reserving the marinade, and place the pork in a roasting pan. Pour the reserved marinade (including the bay leaves) into the roasting pan, and tent the pan loosely with aluminum foil. Roast the pork, covered, for 2 hours on one side. Flip it over and roast, uncovered, on the other side for another 1 ½ to 2 hours, so the marinade has a chance to reduce slightly. After 3 ½ to 4 hours, the pork should be falling-off-the-bone tender — if not, roast it for another 15 minutes and check again.
  3. Remove the pan from the oven and let the meat rest for 20 minutes, covered. Remove the foil and shred the pork into large chunks directly in the pan, mixing the remaining marinade into the meat to make it extra moist. The pork should be slightly pink from the ultraslow cooking time, and the juices should run clear. (The pork can be made a day ahead — simply reheat at 350 degrees for 30 minutes the next day.)
  4. To make the garlic mayonnaise, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight so the flavors meld together.
  5. To assemble the sandwiches, heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the sliced onions and saute for about 4 minutes, until the edges of the onions just turn golden brown. (Alternatively, preheat the grill, toss the onions in the olive oil, and grill for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned.)
  6. Spoon a heaping tablespoon or two of the garlic mayonnaise on the top and bottom of the baguette pieces.
  7. Layer a few cilantro leaves and jalapeno slices on the bottom of the baguette pieces, then pile on  a generous amount of pork (¾ cup of meat is a good place to start). Top with the grilled onions and a few leaves of romaine, and then squish the top of the baguette down onto the sandwich.