Friday, January 22, 2016

Cubanos (or for the layman, Cuban Sandwiches)

It's sort of funny to me that I'm here today writing to you about sandwiches. I was never really a sandwich girl as a child. I tolerated pb and j's and the occasional peanut butter and honey sandwich, sure, but it wasn't like I ever craved one. And it was over my dead body that you would ever find me in the vicinity of a sandwich containing meat and cheese and the works. Bleh. I was the girl who ordered my hamburgers and hot dogs with nothing on them.

Cashiers would clarify "Oh so no onions and tomatoes then? Just ketchup?"

No, Lady. I said nothing on it.

"Not even ketchup?"

Not even ketchup. Totally and completely plain. Appalling, I know.

I loathed mayonnaise and mustard and though I was cool with dry burgers and hot dogs, spread-less bread sandwiched around meat and cheese and the fixings weren't really my thing. So, when I finally "came of age" in high school (read: was no longer homeschooled and got to pack a lunch for the first time in my life), I enjoyed experimenting with all things gourmet. And by that I mean I packed myself plain, untoasted bagels spread with butter and garlic salt. That's weird, right? And so totally delicious! To this day, when I'm sick, this is my go-to: white bread of any variety, slathered with butter and a heavy dusting of garlic salt (but of course now that I've matured into adulthood, I've gone upscale sometimes even toast my bread). I'll let you take one stab at what I lived on during the entire first trimester of all three of my pregnancies....Have I mentioned yet that I'm a dietitian? ;)

Anyway, it's obviously a miracle that I ever turned into the food-loving person that I today based on the vanilla-ness of my childhood food choices. But like I said, I'm an adult now. Which means I like things like meat and cheese. And mustard even. All together! Inside of bread! Crazy, right? I swear the only reason we like things as adults that we didn't as kids is because our taste buds are dying. Whatever the case, I'm just thankful I'm no longer meat-and-cheese-sandwich averse. Because if that were the case, I never would have allowed this recipe to pass let alone touch my lips.

So if you were also the kid who hated mustard and scooted the pickles off to the side of your plate, there is still a pretty good chance you will like this sandwich. Because it's simply nothing short of amazing. Much like a Croque-Monsieur, the Cubano consists of pork (this time a roast in addition to deli ham), white cheese (trade the gruyere for swiss), a handful of pickles and a heavy slathering of mustard that are layered inside a hero roll and pressed and grilled. You may be tempted to use some sort of fancy mustard here but I assure you, the plain, bright yellow stuff is best. You don't need to splurge on the ham or use high end bread either. Keep it simple and let the combination of the ingredients do the work for you. And don't be shy with the amount of mustard you use! I skimped on my first go around and ended up peeling apart my sandwich at the table to add some more.

If you are new to my blog or just happened upon this recipe, it's important to note that these Cubanos are actually a sequel recipe for the leftovers of the Cuban Mojo Marinated Pork that I blogged about here. The roast alone is also most delicious so make it first on night one and then reserve some of the meat for Cubanos on night two. Seriously. (See visual temptation below).

Cubanos (or for the layman, Cuban Sandwiches)
(adapted from

6 ounces thinly sliced deli ham
Softened butter, for brushing
6 (six-inch) soft baguettes or hero rolls, split lengthwise
Yellow mustard, for brushing
8 ounces thinly sliced Swiss cheese
Dill pickle chips

Heat a skillet or grill pan over medium, and add the sliced ham. Cook for about 1 minute on each side or until brown spots start to appear. Remove to a plate.

Brush or spread softened butter over the cut side of each roll. Add to the skillet and brown the cut side of the bread until it is golden and starting to toast.

Once the bread is toasted, spread each half with a generous amount of mustard. On one toasted bread half, layer the pork, browned ham, Swiss, and pickles and then top with the remaining piece of bread. Repeat this process for all 6 sandwiches. Brush the top and bottom of each sandwich with butter.

Grill the sandwiches in the same skillet used to brown the ham, using a second heavy skillet to press down the sandwich (add cans or something heavy to the top skillet as need to aid with the pressing). Alternatively, use a George Foreman or a panini press, if you have one. Cook sandwiches for about 3 minutes and then turn, replacing second heavy skillet for pressing, and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the outside is crisp and golden and the cheese melted.

Slice the sandwiches in half and serve immediately!

Makes 6 sandwiches

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posted by kelsie