The Hispanic community continues to grow and integrate itself in the world of professional sports, including NASCAR race car driving. Aric Almirola is the only Hispanic driver in the Sprint Cup Series, and one of his recent big wins was the 2014 Coke Zero 400 in Daytona. He currently drives the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford Fusion sponsored by Smithfield.
Growing up in Tampa, Florida and being of Cuban descent, he has always been proud of his roots. He is a well-respected figure in the world of professional racecar driving, reminding us that the Hispanic community can achieve anything with hard work and dedication. Recently we asked Aric Almirola to talk to us about his heritage and career in NASCAR. He also shared with us one of his favorite recipes: Cubano Sandwiches.
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Mamiverse: How does it feel to represent the Hispanic community in your profession?
Aric Almirola: It makes me proud to represent the Hispanic community in NASCAR. I feel like it has always been the All-American sport, and the Hispanic community is a big part of America.
Mamiverse: Based on your own experience how could someone interested in the sport become a professional racecar driver?
Aric: Racing is very different than other sports, and also very expensive. Any child that wants to play a stick and ball sport can pick up a $25 glove and play baseball. I was very fortunate to have a family willing to make that investment for me to race.
Mamiverse: Do you consider yourself a role model for young Hispanics?
Aric: I do consider myself a role model. The biggest thing I realized growing up in a Hispanic community in Florida, is that my family had to work very hard for everything they got. Seeing both sides of my family being able to achieve what they have, showed me that if I wanted something bad enough I had to work hard for it.
Mamiverse: Is it important that your children connect with your Cuban heritage? If so, what are some things you do to ensure they are familiar with their Hispanic roots?
Aric: I think that it’s important that they know about it. We haven’t forced the heritage or the language on them. They are still young, but as they grow up, I certainly want them to know and understand where their family is from.
Mamiverse: What is your favorite Cuban dish you enjoyed growing up that you still look forward to having? Is there one dish in particular that you’ve mastered?
Aric: My favorite Cuban dish is piccadillo, which is ground pork mixed with potatoes, raisins, a lot of seasoning and rice.
He’s also a big fan of the Cubano Sandwich. It’s easy to make and always a family pleaser.
PRESSED CUBANO SANDWICH
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 50 min.
low-carb panini bread
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
12 oz thinly sliced cooked Smithfield Marinated Pork Tenderloin
½ lb Swiss cheese
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
12 oz Smithfield Deli Thins Cooked Ham
Thinly sliced dill pickles
2 Tbsp. melted butter or coconut oil for Panini press
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Rub a small roasting pan with oil and place the tenderloin in it.
2. Bake tenderloin 20 minutes per pound until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.
3. Allow tenderloin to rest for 5 minutes prior to slicing.
4. Preheat panini press to medium high.
5. Cut panini bread into 4-inch squares. Cut each square horizontally through the middle to make two square slices.
6. In a small bowl, mix the mustard and mayonnaise. Spread one slice of each sandwich square with the mixture.
7. Divide sliced ham and sliced pork tenderloin between sandwich squares. Top with pickles and Swiss cheese.
8. Brush panini press with melted butter or oil. Place sandwiches onto the press and close lid. Cook until bread is golden brown and has grill marks and cheese is melted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.
Recipe & Photo courtesy Smithfield Foods