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Feb 1, 2020
Originally published on February 1, 2020 5:38 pm

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

And finally today, football's biggest night of the year, the Super Bowl, is tomorrow night. The Kansas City Chiefs, my home team, will face off against the San Francisco 49ers in Miami. If you're planning on watching or going to a Super Bowl party - maybe you just like the commercials or you're excited to see J-Lo and Shakira perform during the halftime show - you still have to eat, so we have you covered there. We've called up James Beard Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein, who also happens to be a Miami native. We've asked her to share some of her Latin American, Miami-inspired dishes with us in honor of the host city this year. And Chef Bernstein joins us now from Cafe La Trova, her Cuban inspired restaurant in Little Havana. Chef Bernstein, thank you so much.

MICHELLE BERNSTEIN: Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure.

MCCAMMON: I know it's a busy weekend for you. Talk us through what you've picked as your first Super Bowl dish.

BERNSTEIN: So it's one that's very much inspired by where I am at the moment. So to me, a pan con lechon, which is a Cuban toast with pulled Cuban pork - it's kind of like a pulled pork sandwich, but without all the sticky barbecue sauce. Instead we do sour orange, toasted garlic and olive oil, coriander, cilantro, a little bit of cumin, all kinds of warm spices and cook that for hours and hours in the sour orange juice covered in foil for hours until it starts breaking apart. And once it's done, you literally just pick out it with a tong, dip it into all of the cooking liquid and stick that between a piece of Cuban toast. And there's really nothing better.

MCCAMMON: And what is Cuban toast?

BERNSTEIN: It's Cuban bread. It's kind of like a baguette, but it's a little airier, a little lighter, and gets really, really crispy when you put it inside of a press. But it's also really soft if you don't.

MCCAMMON: And Chef Bernstein, you come from an Argentinean-Russian-Jewish family as I understand.

BERNSTEIN: Yeah, we call ourselves Jewtineans (ph).

MCCAMMON: Jewtineans - I like it. How, if at all, have your parents cooking, what you grew up with, influenced you?

BERNSTEIN: My mother taught me how to cook. She taught me what flavor was and how to achieve it. And living pretty much my whole life in South Florida changed my whole style of cooking. My mother's was Argentine, which is, you know, the gauchos, and then the Italian influences and the German influences, which really make up the country. And then growing up here, you have all the more side of Caribbean influences. So we eat a lot of, like, Trinidadian and Jamaican. We eat a lot of Cuban and Venezuelan now, and Colombian is really in our plates these days. So it's this big mix.

MCCAMMON: I wonder, Chef Bernstein, if for those who are watching the Super Bowl, maybe hosting a Super Bowl party somewhere, is there a recipe that's maybe really simple, really accessible for a beginner?

BERNSTEIN: You know what would be kind of fun? If you went out and bought the best pulled pork, Cuban-style, that you can find, or buy some pork and just cover it in onions and garlic and sour orange and some orange juice and maybe a little white wine and chicken stock, cover it, throw it in the oven for about four hours - that would be a pork shoulder - at a nice low temperature at about 300, 325. Check it, Like, twice. Once it's out, let it cool. Pull it. Make your favorite nachos and top it with that pulled pork, and I think you've got yourself quite the Miami-inspired Super Bowl meal.

MCCAMMON: And I hear your partner in the restaurant is there with you, Julio Cabrera. He's an award-winning bartender. Could we talk to him for a second?

BERNSTEIN: Hang on just a sec.

JULIO CABRERA: Hello?

MCCAMMON: Hi, Julio.

CABRERA: How are you?

BERNSTEIN: Good. How are you?

CABRERA: Excellent.

MCCAMMON: So we're talking about Cuban cuisine around the Super Bowl and we were wondering, since a lot of people like to enjoy a few beverages on Super Bowl Sunday, if you could suggest a couple of drinks for us - maybe one alcoholic and one for the non-drinkers?

CABRERA: Because we are in Miami and, you know, Super Bowl, I highly recommend a mojito. I have one recipe that is the regular mojito with some watermelon. So watermelon juice and ginger syrup. Instead of sugar, ginger syrup and watermelon juice. That one is a very refreshing and elegant mojito. On the other side, like, a non-alcoholic, I have one recipe that is with mint as well, but with cucumber. Some simple syrup, lime juice and soda or ginger beer.

MCCAMMON: So options for drinkers and non-drinkers, or if you're like me, I might alternate because I like to pace myself. But they both sound delicious. That was award-winning bartender Julio Cabrera and James Beard Award-winning chef and Miami native Michelle Bernstein. They are the owners of Cafe La Trova in Little Havana, Miami.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ON THE FLOOR")

JENNIFER LOPEZ: (Singing) Dance the night away, life your life and stay young on the floor. Dance the night away, grab somebody, drink a little more. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.