Do It Yourself Cubanos


I love Cuban Sandwiches, and I’ve posted on them extensively here on Off The Broiler. I generally don’t eat them at home, because we have a number of good Cuban restaurants in the Northern NJ area. However, we found ourselves with an abundance of really good leftover slow-cooked Berkshire pork shoulder from Momofuku Ssam Bar this week after indulging in their Bo Ssam, and we needed something to do with it. Originally I thought about doing barbecue sandwiches, but I wanted to show the meat more respect and let the natural flavor of the high-quality pork show through, so I chose to transform it into Cubanos.

Click Here for Hi-Resolution photos.

First, take your roast or slow cooked pork (even pork loin will do, leftover pork shoulder from your barbecue works great) shred it apart, and heat it on low heat in a cast iron pan, just to get the cold off from the refrigerator. To make it taste more authentically Cuban, we added some of Daisy Martinez’s Pineapple/Garlic/Chile Vinagre which is a great condiment to make for doing all sorts of marinades or to add some kick to deep fried and grilled foods. When warmed up and mixed up with the Vinagre, remove from pan and set aside.

Next, get your Cubano mise-en-place ready. You’ll need some nice sliced ham (we’ve got Black Forest), sliced Swiss-style cheese (this is Jarlsberg), sliced dill pickles, and a mustard-heavy mayonnaise and mustard mixture.

Get some nice hero rolls or French bread (Cuban sandwich bread is ideal, but French bread is very similar) or an eggy bread like a Portuguese roll (in order to make Medianoche, a popular variant) and spread some of the Mustard/Mayo mixture on each side.

Next, the cheese and the pickles.

Next, the pork.

Finally, the ham.

Cover with the other half of the roll.

Butter both sides of each sandwich. Heat up the cast iron pan to medium-low heat, and put the sandwiches in there.

Using a second cast iron pan, smush down firmly on the sandwiches while they are grilling. Flip the sandwiches after 3 to 4 minutes and grill on the other side for the same amount of time.

Cut the sandwiches along a triangular bisect. Serve with potato chips and fruit-flavored soft drink (such as a champagne cola or mango/pineapple soda) or Caribbean-style Latino beer such as Hatuey or Presidente.

34 Responses to Do It Yourself Cubanos

  1. daisy says:

    i cooked 129 pounds of pernil, for a weddinh I catered tonite…50 pounds of rice, and 80 pounds of Scottish salmon….and that last pic STILL made my mouth water!

  2. Suzanne F says:

    Did the Jarlsberg stand up to all the other good flavors? Personally, I prefer as stronger Swiss. Otherwise, mmmmmmmm.

    Also, what DocChuck said about the cast-iron pans. It’s really easy:
    1. Scrub off all rust; rinse with hot water; dry thoroughly.
    2. Coat thoroughly with vegetable shortening.
    3. Bake at 300 to 350 degrees for 30 minutes to an hour.
    4. Wipe out any excess grease and let cool.
    5. Repeat steps 2 through 5 if desired.

    Once the pans are well-seasoned, I’ve found that I can wash them lightly with a little soap and water and nothing bad happens (as long as I always dry them, and reseason occasionally, like once a year).

  3. I think you could use a stronger cheese but that’s what we had lying around :)

    As to the pans… they’ve been beaten up pretty good and Rachel likes to wash them in the Miele… I’ve never been dissatisfied with their performance though.

  4. [...] 886-210I guess I’ve got Cuban sandwiches on the brain this week, but what can I say, I can’t stop eating them — and apparently, some more [...]

  5. Hands down the best photos I have ever come across of a Cuban sandwich in the making as well as the finished product. Thanks so much for sharing them.

  6. Ricky Ricardo says:

    The CUBAN SANDWICH, always my first choice. I luv ‘em.

  7. vexingvampirah says:

    I love cuban sandwiches……….i can eat them all the time…but i dont like mayo, tomatoes ,or lettuce a authencic Cuban is the best…..i make them at home , and i prefer them over a burger…Rock on cuban sandwich they here to stay

  8. Alison Hanns says:

    Wow! Those pictures made me hungry! My daughter and her friend are going to Cuba for two weeks holiday in September. I have been looking for Cuban recipes to give them a “flavour” of Cuba before they depart. I found a nice recipe for Cuban Mojo Chicken with black beans and rice and a mango avocado salsa. (It sounds pretty filling!). I also thought of making Mojito cocktails and Pina Coladas. Any other ideas would be welcome as long as they are pretty easy to do!

    I came upon your website and found a good recipe for Cuban bread which I may try some time, I note you have tostart it the day before. THEN I found your recipe for wonderful Cuban sandwiches. I am going to try and make these – we dont have some ingredients over here in England (like the pineapple/chilli vinaigre) and a Cuban sandwich press but I like your novel idea of the two skillet pans. I will definitely try this at home. Thank you for a brilliant site. Vampyra (UK).

  9. [...] legit Sandwich Cubano has to be made with roast pork — but if you’ve got leftover Pavochon, you’ve got [...]

  10. jjones says:

    We moved away from tampa ( where the cuban sandwich originates ) about a year ago… I miss cuban sandwiches and cuban bread the most…We tried to bring some cuban bread back from tampa, unfortunately, it doesn’t keep well. It’s just not a “real” cuban sandwich without the bread….

  11. [...] how do you go about replicating this culinary delight at home?  As described by others like Off the Broiler and Taste of Cuba, it’s actually very easy to do.  First, prepare a pork tenderloin however [...]

  12. hungryFella78 says:

    I tried this recipe and the outcome was very very good. I have zero idea about cooking but this was really simple to make. Can’t wait to do it all over again.

  13. Paul Y says:

    I’ve had this bookmarked for the better part of two years, as I always use some of my leftover barbecue pork (I pull out the smoker a few times a year) for Cubanos, as they are pretty much the best sandwich ever. Thanks for posting this.

    I’ve got a Cubano on the stove as I write this, of course.

  14. QL7 says:

    I WILL be making these! I live in a part of the US where Cuban sandwiches are not readily available to buy. Thanks for posting. GREAT pictures.

  15. Cyndi says:

    I just spent a week in Miami.. Im in love!!The best sandwich in the world!!! Im going to make the bread and am roasting the pork…yummy !!!Love the pics

  16. As a Cuban American I give you a two thumbs up on your recipe and photos. After living in South Florida for 42 years and eating them at hundreds different restaurants, I know find myself living in CT and without access to my local Cuban eating joint. However, this weekend we will be roasting some pork and making Cuban Sandwiches. Thank you for your recipe. I am on my way to get the Oster press I saw on line at cubanfoodmarket.com which is great for pressing the Cuban Sandwich.

  17. MANUEL GARCIA says:

    asi no se hace una media noche, nunca se calienta ,se sirve fria, nada de plancha

  18. Gee says:

    If you are ever in tampa have a cuban at Alessi bakery — and while you are they pick up a couple extra loaves of pan cubano, a sicilian sandwich, and a box of scachatta. this place is the stuff of dreams.

    the origianl cuban sandwich is from tampa — and it includes genoa salami. the lettuce and tomato are a miami addition.

    to translate manuel garcia — in cuba a “media noche” is a roast pork sandwich, no ham, served cold. a plancha (the hot smashy thingy — literally translated an iron) isn’t used.

    while in tampa visit la teresita for the original vaca frita, and the columbia for the original spanish bean soup — a variation of the spanish dish cociodo madrilleno — tampa is a well hidden foodie paradise that still remains under tight raps.

    i almost forgot cesare’s pizza. if you want pepperoni you are told where to go and its a very hot place.

  19. Dave says:

    I love the Internet. It’s been a long time since I lived in Miami, a bit less time since the two Cuban joints near me closed. But it was only this weekend that I did a pork tenderloin Cuban style. After work I got a loaf of Cuban bread, some ham and some swiss. I’m about to fire up the George Forman Grill. I hope what I eat looks as good as your pictures. Thanks for the steps.

  20. LT says:

    Looks delish and can’t wait to try it, but are you playing a what’s different about this picture game? Or does the grilling miraculously make the ham move places?

    • No the ham didn’t move. I just chose to plate the sandwich with the pork showing on top. I turned the sandwich upside down from how I grilled it, but I grilled it on both sides. It’s sort of an arbitrary choice what “side” is top when the sandwich gets pressed.

  21. REEARL says:

    I would have to differ with the posters claiming that the Cuban Sandwich originated in Tampa Bay. The Cuban sandwich originated in (duh) Cuba. Immigrants from Cuba working in the cigar factories popularized it in the Tampa area.

    Keep in mind, just because a restaurant claims it in their advertising that it doesn’t make it so!

    Genoa Salami is not of Cuban origin, so it could hardly be called a Cuban sandwich with an ingredient made in Genoa.

    Genoa Salami was an influence of the Italian immigrants who also settled in and around Ybor city.

    The main difference between a Cuban Sandwish and a Media Noche is the type of bread used. The Versaille, La Carreta, Bongos, 3 guys from Miami all have the same ingredients listed for both sandwiches.

    I have never had a medianoche without ham. Nor is it ever served cold (except as leftovers, a rarity)

    • Mike in NJ says:

      I agree with all the poster’s assertions, as a veteran Cuban Sandwich Devourer, born of Cuban parents, and having lived in Miami for 15 years before moving to NJ. :)

  22. Bren says:

    I’m finally making one today for my blog readers to enjoy! some have emailed me asking to talk about it, but since I don’t do pork, I’ve stayed away from it. But, I’m finally compelled. I won’t be eating it, but someone will!! Been around our sandwiches my whole life, even though I was raised in DC… I hear ATL has some good spots for some pan cubanos but, yeah, not quite going there… yours looks pretty tasty!! :)

  23. [...] Perlow over at Off the Broiler gives a really excellent rundown of how to make a Cuban Sandwich. Check it out. Really. Taking the [...]

  24. Mark says:

    I LOVE this sandwich! Oddly enough I was in FARGO ND when I had my 1st Cuban! Merry Christmas! Mark.

  25. Alison Hanns says:

    Well, its been a long time since my last post! ;o) Have finally got round to following your excellent pictures and instructions and we tried a cubanos this evening. We are converted! We didnt have the correct bread so used a french baguette instead, the nearest thing we could find. I cooked a small fillet of pork especially to make the sandwich and got some jarlsberg, some parma ham and some pickled gherkins. Used your idea of one heavy pan on top of them and worked a treat. WOW! Fantastic sandwich. This is definitely going to be made again (and again and again….) especially for watching our favourite footbal team (Everton) on t.v. along with a nice cold beer. Thanks so much for sharing.

    What I need now is to go to Cuba to try the real thing….or possibly Miami….could then visit Dexter at the same time ;o)

  26. Sara says:

    Yum! I made these tonight in an effort to do something different with leftover pork roast and they were a universal smash hit! I didn’t change a thing and would definitely make these again. Thanks for helping me expand my cultural horizons!

  27. Ken says:

    Living in Wisconsin it is very hard to find the proper bread for a Medianoche, however as one person noted a French baguette is a good sub for a Cuban Sandwich (as opposed to the Medianoche) There is actually a Cuban restaurant here in the Milwaukee area that will order the proper bread for you. (Cubanitas, it’s called) They have their bread flown in for the Medianoche’s they serve and they are outstanding! Your recipe is quite similar but I prefer to use Emmental Swiss because the taste works so well with the lechon. Don’t let the lack of egg-bread stop you from enjoying this wonderful sandwich! Both the Cuban and the Medianoche are simply outstanding!

  28. Face Cream says:

    What a really fun article!!!

  29. [...] Perlow over at Off the Broiler gives a really excellent rundown of how to make a Cuban Sandwich. Check it out. Really. Taking the [...]

  30. [...] lunch, if you can’t get to David’s Café for the best Sandwich Cubano in Miami, then you can whip up your own delicious combo of Ham, Pork, Swiss Cheese, Pickles, and [...]

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