Makes 4 large sandwiches
Jorge: To make the traditional toasted and flattened Cuban sandwich, restaurants use a special press called a plancha.
Glenn: We've had good success pressing them on a griddle with a bacon press or heavy cast-iron pan, heated slightly to toast the top of the bread. We've even seen people use a brick wrapped in aluminum foil!
Raúl: of course there is only one bread that works best and that's Cuban bread. If you can't get your hands on any, a fresh loaf of French bread can be substituted.
Glenn: Ideally, you need a loaf that is crusty on the outside and soft in the middle.
Jorge: Never use a baguette, which is too narrow and too hard to press correctly!
(or substitute French bread if you must, but NOT a baguette!)
Dill pickles, sliced
1 pound Lechón Asado, sliced
1 pound good quality ham, sliced
1/2 pound Swiss cheese, sliced
(use a mild Swiss; we like baby Swiss—it has only a few holes)
Yellow mustard (optional)
Preheat a griddle or large sauté pan. Cut the bread into sections about 8 inches long. Cut these in half and spread butter on both halves (inside). Make each sandwich with the ingredients in this order: pickles, roasted pork, ham, and cheese. Be generous!
Place the sandwich on a lightly greased hot griddle or sauté pan. Place a heavy iron skillet or bacon press on top of the sandwich to flatten. Put a little muscle into it! You really want to smash the sandwich, compressing the bread to about a third of its original size!
Grill the sandwiches for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden. Make sure your griddle or sauté pan is not TOO HOT! Otherwise, the crust will burn before the cheese melts. Slice the sandwich in half diagonally and serve.
TIP: Let your meats and cheese come to room temperature. This way you avoid burning the bread, and the cheese melts perfectly! This is especially helpful when you have a lot of meat in your sandwich. For extra flavor, sprinkle a little Mojo sauce on the meat before adding the cheese. Using mustard or mayonnaise is a personal choice. We find that the best Cuban sandwiches don't need either ingredient. The butter, natural meat juices, and yes—even the pickle juice gives it all of the moistness and flavor it needs. At lunch counters, we've seen many people dipping their sandwich into a little mustard. It is perfectly acceptable to serve these condiments "on the side."
Three Guys From Miami Cook Cuban
100 Great Cuban Recipes with a Touch of Miami Spice
by Glenn Lindgren, Raúl Musibay and Jorge Castillo
Gibbs Smith, Publisher
75 color photographs
Recipe reprinted by permission.
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This page created December 2004
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