In my family, Easter means a big old ham and lots of leftovers. When the parents hugged us goodbye they sent us on our way with much more ham than a normal person should eat. Instead of just going with the regular old ham sandwiches, we decided to try our hands at the Cuban sandwich. I know there are lots of rules, and I was initially was leery about approaching a sandwich as contentious as this one. Hell, even poor Howie of Top Chef fame (remember him?) got crucified for not pressing his interpretation of the sandwich down.
But what makes a Cuban sandwich interesting isn’t the rules—it’s the textures. The luscious roast pork is cut by the acidic pickles. The pressed bread squeezes together the cheese and the improbable amount of meat into a glorious unit. What a great sandwich. Unless you regularly roast a whole pig, the hardest component to find is the roast pork. I already had a lot of ham; I didn’t need to be roasting any other large hunks of pork. Luckily the fiancé found some really good stuff at Whole Foods that we could buy by the ounce.
There are no amounts on the recipe because you’re essentially making a ham and cheese sandwich with a little extra meat. It’s really up to you. Some variants like to add mustard, others swap the mayonnaise for butter. If you have a plancha to press the sandwich, then you’re set. A panini maker will work, but if you’re like me and don’t have either, then it’s time to get creative. I found this solution from Daisy Martinez. She wraps the sandwiches in aluminum foil, places a large oven-proof skillet on top, and tosses them in the oven. Far from authentic, but it works just fine.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Construct the sandwiches. Cut the bread in half length-wise, and slather it with the mayonnaise. Layer with the roast pork, ham, pickles, and cheese and top with the other slice of bread.
Wrap the sandwiches in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Set a heavy oven-proof skillet on top. Place everything in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven, slice diagonally if you so choose, and dig in.