If you have never tried Cubanos [a traditional Cuban Sandwich recipe], then you are in for a treat! Break out your panini press or a frying pan and cook up these ham and mojo pork filled sandwiches that are also loaded with melted Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, and dill pickles!
The first time I remember trying a cubano was at a restaurant in Palo Alto known as La Bodeguita Del Medio when I was a summer associate at the law firm where I would later go on to start my short-lived career as a practicing lawyer.
Short-lived only because kids came along and after going back to work for a year after our first was born, I knew it just wasn’t working. My husband is also a lawyer and after a lot of consideration, we decided that the right decision for our family was for me to stay home with the kids, at least while they were young.
Which has worked out great for us since this blog of mine that I started as a hobby in 2017 has turned into so much more and become a full-time job for me. One that I can do from home on my own hours when the kids are either in school or asleep (mostly – I still do most of my photography with my kiddos around, often helping me in the kitchen as taste-testers or mixers or holding food or utensils when I need that human element in the shot and don’t want to bust out my tripod.
Our oldest daughter has even started coming up with ideas of her own for the blog, like these raspberry chocolate chunk cookies that she convinced me to make (which turned out super tasty!).
But like I was saying, during my experience at a big Silicon Valley law firm, we often ate out at one of the many restaurants in the area and this Cuban restaurant called La Bodeguita Del Medio was one of my very favorites. It’s where I first experienced a cubano, or cuban sandwich, which is the recipe I’m sharing with your today.
What is a Cuban Sandwich?
Cuban sandwiches were created in Florida, specifically in Key West or Tampa where a neighborhood known as Ybor City has historically been home to thousands of Cuban immigrants, many of whom worked at cigar factories there. As the Cuban population throughout Florida spread, so did the popularity of this Cuban sandwich, which is also easy to find in Miami.
A Cuban sandwich is made with sliced deli ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and yellow mustard, all layered between Cuban bread that is sliced in half horizontally, submarine sandwich style. Then it’s pressed in a panini press or weighted down on a hot griddle or frying pan to that as the bread gets toasty on the outside, the cheese melts and the meat warms on the inside.
Since Cuban bread is pretty near impossible to find outside of Florida, French bread or Italian bread are also good substitutes.
In some parts of Florida where there were also large Italian populations, salami got added to the mix as well, so that’s another variation to try when making Cuban sandwiches.
Also, for all you pickle-averse people out there, before you go thumbing your nose at the dill pickles you really ought to give them a try in this sandwich. I am the only one in my family who likes pickles so I was hesitant to even bother making our cubanos with them. But it seemed like cheating to omit the pickles, so I decided that everybody could just this once, deal with it.
And guess what? They loved them! They didn’t even pull the pickles off and stack them on my plate (which is what typically happens). Even my husband admitted with surprise that they tasted really good when combined with everything else.
Tips for Making Cubanos at Home
- If you don’t have a panini press, you can make these Cuban sandwiches in a hot griddle or frying pan. Top them with a heavy cast iron skillet then weigh it down with some cans so it presses the sandwich. You will need to flip the sandwich to cook both sides, but this method totally works.
- If you haven’t made Cuban mojo pork and consequently don’t have any pork roast leftovers, you can usually get roast pork at the deli.
- Use yellow American mustard, not a spicy mustard, for the most authentic Cuban sandwich.
More Hot, Meaty Sandwiches You’ll Enjoy
- Blue Bayou Monte Cristo Sandwich
- Traditional Reuben Sandwich from An Affair from the Heart
- Faux Yard Bird Sandwich from The Speckled Palate
Want to see the other states I’ve visited in my American Eats Series? Check them out below!
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