A great Cuban sandwich.
4 generous sandwiches
- Cuban bread or (Substitute French bread if you must. Sourdough slices also work nicely, but NOT a baguette!)
- Butter, softened
- 1 pound ham sliced (Use a good quality ham.)
- 1 pound Lechón Asado (roasted Cuban pork) sliced
- 1/2 pound mild Swiss cheese, sliced
- Sliced dill pickles
- Yellow mustard (optional)
Preheat a pancake griddle or large fry pan. Cut the bread into sections about 8 inches long. Cut these in half and spread butter on both halves (inside). Make each sandwich with the ingredients in this order: pickles, roasted pork, ham, and cheese. Be generous!
Most people use a sweet cured ham (jamón dulce) or bolo ham for Cuban sandwiches. If you can find these hams in your area, great. Otherwise, look for a slightly sweet, soft textured ham with a mild taste. You don’t want the flavor of the ham to overpower the rest of the ingredients! Also, never use shaved ham or pork in a Cuban sandwich!
Place the sandwich on the hot griddle (fry pan) sprayed with a little “Pam” or lightly greased. Place a heavy iron skillet or bacon press on top of the sandwich to flatten. (You really want to smash the sandwich, compressing the bread to about 1/3 its original size!) Grill the sandwiches for two to three minutes on each side, until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden. Make sure your griddle or fry pan is not TOO HOT! Otherwise, the crust will burn before the cheese melts. Slice the sandwich in half diagonally and serve.
Use all the same ingredients, except use a medianoche bread loaf. This sweeter bread, and smaller size, is the only difference between a medianoche and a Cuban sandwich!
Let your meats and cheese come to room temperature. This way you avoid burning the bread and the cheese melts perfectly! This is especially helpful when you have a lot of meat in your sandwich.
For extra flavor, sprinkle a little mojo (or meat juices if you make the recipe below) on the meat before adding the cheese.
Using mustard or mayonnaise is a personal choice. We find that the best Cuban sandwiches don’t need either ingredient. The butter, natural meat juices and yes — even the pickle juice give it all of the moistness and flavor it needs. At lunch counters we’ve seen many people dipping their sandwich into a little mustard. So it is perfectly acceptable to serve these condiments “on the side.”
And yes, people from Tampa, we know you claim to have invented the Cuban sandwich (we’re not even going to go there!) and it isn’t a Cuban sandwich without Genoa salami — but that is an addition that is unique to Tampa. You won’t find salami on a Cuban sandwich in just about any city that we know about!
So Tampa Cubans, take pride in the fact that your Cuban sandwich is truly unique. As for the argument that a “true Cuban sandwich” is never pressed, if you really like it that way in Tampa, more power to you!