My partner, Gene, introduced me to Cuban sandwiches many years ago on trip to Miami. Cuban sandwiches are rich, meaty, delicious sandwiches filled with ham, roast pork, and a Swiss cheese. The roast pork is a little tricky; unless you make it yourself it’s sort of hard to come by. (…but so worth it!) I used leftover roast pork I’d made for dinner a few nights ago. I had marinated a pork butt in mojo sauce overnight and then slow roasted it (yum!)
The other key ingredient is Cuban bread, which is also hard to find (anywhere north of Florida). Cuban bread is long, like a baguette, but has a very thin almost papery yet crispy crust and a soft interior. French bread has a thicker, harder crust, but still substitutes pretty well.
Traditionally the sandwiches are pressed-grilled like a Panini to warm the filling and make the bread toasty, crisp. I don’t have a sandwich press and have tried using my waffle iron in the past with disappointing results. The waffle iron doesn’t open far enough to accommodate thick sandwiches and squishes them at an unacceptable angle. So as an alternative for my Cuban sandwiches, I toasted the bread and warmed the ingredients under the broiler for about a minute before assembling sandwich. I think next time I’ll try pressing them between two hot frying pans for a few minutes; they really are better flattened a bit.
The Recipe: Cuban Sandwiches
Makes two sandwiches
1 loaf Cuban bread (or French baguette)
Prepared mustard (yellow is traditional)
1/4 pound baked ham, thinly sliced (about 4-6 slices)
1/4 pound roast pork, pulled to shreds or thinly sliced
1 dill pickle sliced thinly length-wise (about 8 slices)
1/4 pound Swiss cheese, thinly sliced (about 4 slices)
Slice two 5- or 6-inch lengths of bread from the baguette, then slice each length horizontally to open. Spread a generous layer of mustard on top and bottom halves of bread.
Arrange ham, pork, pickle slices, and Swiss cheese evenly over the bread. Cover the sandwiches with the top halves of the bread.
Grill sandwiches in a hot buttered sandwich press until flattened a bit, the bread is browned, and the cheese has melted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cut each sandwich in half and serve immediately.