An authentic Cubano sandwich is a simple affair. I’ve seen far too many bastardized versions in restaurants which include ingredients like mayo, lettuce and tomato – even sauerkraut. Of course, you can put anything you want in/on your Cubano, but a true Cuban sandwich, I’m told, consists of nothing more than the following: bread, mustard, roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and butter. Anything else is a variation on a Cubano. The key to making a good Cubano is in pressing the sandwich. Typically, they are made in a heavy sandwich press called a plancha. However, I don’t own a plancha so I make my Cubanos in a panini press. You could also just cook the sandwich in a heavy skillet such as cast iron on the stove and use a smaller heavy skillet to press down on the sandwich while it cooks. For a great Cubano that you don’t have to cook, visit Beltex Meats on a Saturday when that’s the daily special. This recipe is for a single Cubano.
- 6-8 inch piece of Cuban bread or French baguette, sliced in half horizontally
- Yellow mustard (don’t get fancy – Cubanos are made with cheap yellow mustard, not Dijon or whole grain)
- 2 slices of store bought or homemade roasted pork, cut into quarter-inch slices
- 2 slices boiled ham
- 2 slices Swiss cheese
- thinly sliced dill pickles
- Soft or melted butter
- Spread mustard on the inside of the top and bottom halves of the sandwich bread.
- Layer the sandwich ingredients in this order: roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickle slices.
- Brush melted butter onto the outside tops and bottoms of the sandwich.
- In a plancha, panini maker, or on the stove, cook the sandwiches for 2-3 minutes, pressing very firmly, until heated through and the cheese is melted and sizzling.
The finished Cubano should be only about half as thick after cooking as when it was assembled.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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