Since the early 1990s, Chicago's Borinquen restaurant has been home to the jibarito (pronounced hee-bah-reeto), a sandwich that takes some of Puerto Rico's best ingredients and reimagines them into a handheld wonder. It's an Americanized version of the emparedado de plátano sandwich commonly found in Puerto Rican cuisine, traditionally consisting of steak and smashed, fried green plantains called tostones.
Were it not for those tostones, this would be just another run-of-the-mill steak sandwich (albeit a very good one), and therein lies its genius. The well-seasoned plantains remain shatter-crisp thanks to a double-dip in the fryer even when supporting rosy, heavily-spiced sirloin steak, a slice of tomato, lettuce and garlicky mayonnaise. For the beef-averse, Borinquen graciously offers a vegetarian version, as well as jibaritos with roast pork, ham, fried chicken or grilled chicken breast.
Juan Figueroa, founder of Borinquen, named the sandwich after the rural folk in the mountains of Jayuya where he grew up, known as jibos (roughly translated to "yokels"). As his nephew Jaime puts it, imagine “the picture of the old guy in the straw hat with the guitar”, an archetype that's quintessentially Jayuya.
Even Borinquen is aware of the subtle differences between a jibarito and a traditional "Earl of Sandwich" sandwich – per their website: “Please know the difference between a sandwich and a jibarito. A jibarito is better!”
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