Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Cuban Sandwiches for Beginners

posted in Lunch, Main Dishes, Recipes by Lisa Freeman

If you have never heard of Cuban sandwiches (sandwich cubano) then you are in for a real treat. The really great ones can be bought in specialty sandwich shops in New York City or Miami – or you could make your own!

Traditionally, these sandwiches contain roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, a thinly sliced pickle, a dab of butter and mustard. On a traditional Cuban, there should not be any mayonnaise, tomatoes, onions, peppers or lettuce. They are served pressed and warm (kind of like a panini).

If you don’t have a sandwich press, don’t worry. You can simply warm your sandwich on a pan and press down hard with a spatula or a smaller frying pan. You might also have to improvise with ingredients: If you can’t find fresh roasted pork at your local deli counter, substitute thin pork slices.

The right bread is the key to getting this sandwich right. Crusty or hard breads (such as an Italian bread or baguette) won’t work. Lots of delis and bakeries sell Cuban bread these days, but if you can’t find it, a French bread or a roll is OK. I’ve seen people make a wonderful non-traditional sandwich cubano with whatever they can find. If you are determined on getting authentic bread, you can find it online here.

There are, of course, variations on the time-honored sandwich cubano — like using sliced chicken instead of pork. So, if you don’t mind a mod twist on a sandwich that is already considered by many to be perfect, then, by all means, experiment. After all, you are the one eating it!

Another Havana favorite is the media noche sandwich, which is only a slight variation on the Cuban, in that the bread is slightly sweeter and it’s a bit smaller in size. If you’re interested in wonderful Cuban recipes, including those for sandwich cubano, the website Three Guys from Miami will help gain some insight into this lively Latin cuisine.

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4 Comments

Stacy said:

I am new to this site. I Love it so far. I received this recipe in my e-mail and I could not stop thinking about it all day long. So I went to the store and bought what I needed and made it and the family was impressed! Very good! Thank you for the idea and recipe.

Lisa Freeman said:

Stacy, so glad you gave it a whirl! Isn’t it totally easy to make and oh so tasty!? It’s wonderful that your family went along for the ride and gave ‘em a try too! Lisa

Stephanie said:

In my book, any grilled sandwich is an improvement over a plain sandwich, but the cuban is especially good.

startcooking said:

So true Stephanie!
BTW, have you been The Grilled Cheese Social ?
It looks fantastic!