A Cuban sandwich, also called simply “Cubano” or Sandwich Cubano, is made with ham, roast pork, pickles and swiss cheese all generously stacked on Cuban bread.
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The sandwich is then lightly buttered and heated on a plancha (sandwich press) until the bread is toasty and the cheese is melted. It’s one of the best sandwiches ever and they can be found in cafeterias and restaurants all over Miami.
If you can’t get to Miami anytime soon, there’s no reason you should go without. Most of what you need to make a Cuban sandwich is really easy to get.
The Roast Pork “Lechon”
If you want to make a homemade Cuban sandwich, the sweet ham and swiss cheese are simple; you can pick those up at the deli. The roast pork on the other hand, will take some work…but oh is it worth it! Here’s a fantastic Cuban roast pork recipe. Make it for dinner one night and make Cubanos the next day. You can also make Medianoche (midnight sandwiches), or the very simple and incredibly delicious Pan con Lechon.
If you don’t have time to roast a pork shoulder you can take a short cut and make a couple pork tenderloins. Put together the mojo marinade. Marinate the pork tenderloins for a few hours to overnight. Remove them from the bag and discard the marinade. Grill the tenderloins until the internal temperature reaches at least 165°F at the thickest part. Grill time will vary, but as a guide it takes us approximately 50 minutes on moderate-low heat on a gas grill. Allow the pork tenderloin to cool and slice or shred.
A Cubano is made with Cuban bread, but it can be difficult to find. Unless you’re in South Florida you might have to use a substitute. Use bread that’s wide, crusty on the outside and soft and fleshy on the inside. Italian bread makes a pretty good substitute, so does a wide French bread (not a baguette). We’re going to press the sandwich which will help with creating a crusty exterior.
The remaining ingredients in a Cubano are:
- Ham – use a sweet ham, nothing too strong, and have it sliced a little on the thick side. You want it to be prominent and hold its own with roast pork slices
- Cheese – use swiss cheese
- Pickles – use dill pickles, nothing too sweet so there’s a nice contrast to the sweet ham
- Mustard – use yellow mustard
That’s it for the sandwich. You can use a pastry brush to butter the top before pressing it, we do.
Press the sandwich
Once the sandwich is built it gets buttered up pressed until lightly golden and toasty. If you don’t have a sandwich press don’t let that keep you from enjoying the best Cuban sandwich. You can use a large skillet to press the sandwich. Here’s how:
- Heat a large, heavy skillet on medium to medium-low heat. Place the Cubano on the skillet and place another heavy skillet, large lid or cast iron bacon press on top and press down gently. When the bread is toasted, flip the sandwich and repeat until the other side is toasted and the cheese is melted.
This recipe makes one sandwich. To make more just double, triple, quadruple…you get the picture. Enjoy!
Cuban Sandwich (Cubano)
- 1 Loaf Cuban Bread cut into a 6 – 8 inch piece (use Italian or French if you can’t find Cuban bread)
- ½ teaspoon Yellow Mustard or to taste
- 3–4 slices Sweet Ham (approximately 4 – 5 ounces)
- 3–4 ounces Roast Pork sliced or shredded
- 6–8 Dill Pickle Chips
- 2 slices Swiss Cheese (approximately 2 ounces)
- ½ teaspoon Butter softened
- You will also need: pastry brush, sandwich press or panini maker
Build the Cuban sandwich
- Cut the Cuban bread into a 6 – 8 inch piece and slice it open.
- Lay the bread open and spread the top slice with mustard.
- Layer the ham on the bottom slice.
- Add the sliced roast pork
- Add the pickles, staggered to cover almost the entire area, so that every bite contains pickle.
- Top with Swiss cheese and cover with the bread.
- Heat the sandwich press to medium.
- Brush the top of the sandwich lightly with the softened butter.
- Gently place the sandwich on the preheated surface and press the top down. Don’t press too hard, just place it and let the weight and gravity start flattening the sandwich. Let the sandwich cook until the bread is nice and toasted and the cheese has melted, about 7–10 minutes. Keep an eye on it and check it after 5 minutes to gauge the remaining time.
- Cut the sandwich in half and serve.