Cuban Sandwiches Recipe

A Cuban sandwich is not much more than a gussied-up ham and cheese toastie. Here three meats are pressed with cheese, pickles, and mustard until toasty and warm.

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Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt

Why It Works

  • Layering the Swiss cheese around the other fillings binds the sandwich together as the cheese melts.
  • Three flavors of pork—sweet ham, savory roast pork, and funky salami—give the sandwich layered complexity.
  • Doing it Tampa-style with Genoa salami gives this sandwich extra flavor compared to its simpler counterparts.

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. When Past You gives Present You leftover Cuban roast pork, first you drink a toast to Past You for the generosity and forethought (a mojito is both thematically and gustatorily appropriate), then you pay it forward by making a Cubano sandwich for Future You.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 15 mins
Makes: 2 sandwiches

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Ingredients

  • 2 (8- to 10-inch) sections Cuban bread, split open horizontally (see note)
  • 4 tablespoons (60ml) yellow mustard
  • 6 ounces (170g) sliced Swiss cheese
  • 6 ounces (170g) thinly sliced dill pickles
  • 8 ounces (220g) sliced honey ham
  • 6 ounces (170g) leftover Cuban-style roast pork
  • 4 ounces (115g) sliced Genoa salami (optional; see note)
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) butter

Directions

  1. Preheat a panini press or a large cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Lay bread, open side up, on a work surface and spread the bottom and top halves with mustard. Layer bottom and top halves with Swiss cheese. Working only on bottom halves, layer on all of the pickles, ham, roast pork, and salami (if using). Close sandwiches, pressing gently.

  2. Butter top and bottom of panini press and press sandwiches with moderate pressure until crisp on both sides, about 8 minutes. If using a cast iron skillet or griddle, melt half of butter in pan and add sandwiches. Use a second pan to press on them as the first side crisps. When crisp, flip sandwiches, add remaining butter, swirl to coat, and continue cooking while pressing until crisp on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Slice sandwiches in half diagonally and serve immediately.

Special equipment

Panini press or 10-inch cast iron skillet or cast iron griddle

Notes

Cuban bread is a soft white bread made with lard. Look for it in Latin bakeries or groceries. If unavailable, use any not-too-crusty, soft white rolls, preferably with some lard or fat baked into them. Salami is a traditional ingredient in Tampa-style Cuban sandwiches, but can be omitted.

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