traditional Cuban sandwich recipe calls for sliced
ham, roast pork with a citrusy marinade (called mojo)
and Swiss cheese layered in a loaf of Cuban bread. The
sandwich is then garnished with pickles and mustard
Cuban sandwich is the stuff of which food memories are made.
I still remember my first ó enjoyed nearly 30 years ago at
a small restaurant on Key Biscayne off the Miami coast. It
was savory, it was crusty, it was delicious and it hit the
is a Cuban sandwich? Think of it like a golden, crispy
submarine sandwich but without the lettuce, tomato or other
trimmings. Most recipes call for sliced ham, roast pork with
a citrusy marinade (called mojo) and Swiss cheese layered in
a loaf of Cuban bread, then garnished with pickles and
mustard. The sandwich is heated in a sandwich press until
warm and crusty, then sliced diagonally. Anything beyond
that and you risk the ire of traditionalists who have a firm
view of what makes a sandwich Cubano ó and what does not.
matters. Raquel Rabade Roque, the Miami-based author of
"The Cuban Kitchen," talks of the importance of
keeping traditions and maintaining the purity of the Cuban
sandwich. Itís fairly simple to put together actually, but
maybe the best route is just to enjoy the Cuban sandwich
however you can make it or wherever you can find it.
Roque warns against heating and pressing the Cuban sandwich
in a panini grill ó the true sandwich doesnít sport
grill marks ó not everyone has access to the special
sandwich press used in restaurants. The authors of
"Three Guys from Miami Cook Cuban,"
brothers-in-law Glenn Lindgren, Raul Musibay and Jorge
Castillo, report good results warming the sandwiches on a
griddle using a bacon press or heavy cast-iron pan to
compress the Cuban.
sandwiches should, ideally, be made on Cuban bread, but you
can use a French bread or crusty sub-type loaf.
"Ideally, you need a loaf that is crusty on the outside
and soft on the inside," Lindgren notes.
roast pork can be found at some ethnic and specialty
markets, even some supermarket delis. But do consider
marinating and roasting the pork yourself. Itís easy, and
you can make a dinner or two out of the meat (reserving some
leftovers for the sandwiches). The biggest challenge to
making the marinade is finding sour oranges, but you can use
a mix of citrus to achieve the desired tang. Use the mojo
not just on pork but beef, fish and chicken. My aunt in
Miami would even marinate her Thanksgiving turkey in it.
you make it, think of the Cuban sandwich as more of a snack,
not part of a formal meal. "(Itís) perfect for a late
breakfast or late dinner with the customary cafe con leche
(coffee and milk)," Roque wrote in an email.
in Miami, where we eat Cuban 24/7, the sandwich Cubano is
just part of a daily ritual," she added. "A
sandwich Cubano, a croqueta and a Cuban coffee gets us all
HISTORY OF THE CUBANO
Cuban sandwich to be a true "sandwich Cubano," one
has to follow a set of unwritten rules, insists Raquel
Rabade Roque, author of "The Cuban Kitchen." There
is "no mayo, no lettuce, no veggies," she writes
in an email from Miami. "It is a crunchy dry sandwich
with just a hint of mustard ó thatís all. Super-simple
but super, super good."
super good?" Oh, yes. Just try Roqueís recipe and
taste for yourself. "Super simple?" Maybe not so
much, given that the heritage and how-to of this sandwich
can generate such a passionate fuss among its fans.
what happened in 2012 when the city council of Tampa, Fla.,
voted to name the Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich as the cityís
signature sandwich. Itís made with the usual ham, roast
pork and Swiss cheese but also sports sliced Genoa salami.
The media gleefully followed the resulting food fight
between Cuban sandwich fans in Tampa and Miami, both of whom
consider the Cuban sandwich as their own.
Gonzmart, a fourth-generation Tampa restaurateur who
distributes how-to sandwich diagrams to employees of his
Columbia Restaurant Group, says the Tampa version, developed
in the cityís Ybor City neighborhood back in the 19th
century, reflects the ethnic composition of its people:
Cubans (pork), Spaniards (ham), Jews from Russia and Germany
(mustard, pickles) and Italians (salami).
biting into history," he says.
their 2004 book, "Three Guys From Miami Cook
Cuban," brothers-in-law Glenn Lindgren, Raul Musibay
and Jorge Castillo described Tampaís use of salami as an
understandable blending of cultures. But, they added,
"you wonít find salami on a Cuban sandwich in just
about any other city."
claims Tampa Cubans invented the sandwich, the "Three
Guys" wrote: "Weíre not even going to go
there." The men do note the Cubanís obscure origins.
The sandwich was found on Cuban menus in the 1930s, they
said, and thereís "some evidence" of the
sandwich going back to the early 20th century.
Columbia restaurant was opened in Ybor City back in 1905 by
Gonzmartís great-grandfather. The restaurantís website
boasts the sandwich served today is made according to
"the original 1915 recipe" of the founder.
for one, says he loves the simmering controversy over what
makes a true Cuban sandwich.
"The Cuban Kitchen" by Raquel Rabade Roque.
Cuban bread is not available, consider French bread or
another crusty loaf.
half a loaf of Cuban bread horizontally; spread yellow
mustard on both halves. On bottom half, place 3 slices sweet
Virginia ham, 3 slices roast pork (see recipe) and 3 slices
Swiss cheese. Follow up with 4 slices sweet pickle. Place
the sandwich on a sandwich grill (or in a lightly greased
skillet or on a griddle, weighting the sandwich with a heavy
skillet). Cook until hot and cheese is melted. Slice
diagonally across the middle and serve.
PORK, CUBAN STYLE
4 to 8 hours
Lindgren, Raul Musibay and Jorge Castillo (aka Three Guys
From Miami, icuban.com) adapted this recipe from their
cookbook "Three Guys From Miami Cook Cuban." If
sour oranges are not available, use two parts fresh orange
to one part fresh lemon and one part fresh lime.
head garlic (10-15 cloves, peeled) and 1 teaspoon each salt
and black peppercorns into a paste using a mortar and pestle
(or a food processor). Stir in 1 cup freshly squeezed sour
orange juice, 1 cup minced onion and 2 teaspoons oregano.
Let sit at room temperature, 30 minutes. Heat 1/2 cup olive
oil in a saucepan until hot, about 220 degrees. Remove pan
from heat; quickly whisk in the garlic-orange juice mixture
until well blended. Let cool before using.
1 pork shoulder roast (4 to 6 pounds) all over with a sharp
knife or fork. Pour garlic mixture (save a little for
basting while roasting) over pork. Cover; let sit in
refrigerator, 2-3 hours.
oven to 375 degrees. Place pork in a roasting pan; sprinkle
marinade over pork. Cook uncovered, 20 minutes. Reduce oven
temperature to 225 degrees; cook until the meat is soft and
pulls apart easily with a fork, 4-8 hours. Baste
occasionally while roasting.
pork from pan; allow to rest. Heat the pan juices to a boil;
simmer until the juice is reduced by half. Sprinkle some
juice onto the pork when you put it in the sandwich.