Make this (in)Authentic Cuban Sandwich today for a twist on the classic Cuban sandwich — with deli ham, roast pork, pickles, cheese, mustard and real cuban sandwich bread. It’s a Cuban panini worth savoring.
Have you ever tried an authentic Cuban sandwich? You know – ham, pork, pickles, swiss and mustard piled on Cuban sandwich bread – a super soft, lightly crusted and easily mashable roll. Well, I have and I love them — but when I make them at home, I put my own twists on the classic Cuban sandwich. Introducing my (In) Authentic Cuban Sandwich. You’re welcome.
Living in South Florida, there’s no shortage of places to get a Cuban panini. From Miami’s Versailles to West Palm Beach’s Havana, authentic Cuban fare, including the famous pork, ham and cheese pressed sammie, is always on the menu. But if you don’t happen to live in the area and you want to experience it for yourself, here’s my go-to version.
I’d like to start by saying — I’m not of Cuban descent – my food origins are more rooted in Southern, French and Caribbean flavors as my “About” page reflects. Consequently, any missteps I’ve made in this Cuban panini are not cause for vitriolic rants about how I’ve desecrated a classic. This is my version of the classic Cuban sandwich…. the way I LIKE IT. Feel free to make it the way YOU like it. I’m not the food police. (I make that point because I got taken down on Facebook for making a cheesesteak sandwich… I didn’t say it was a Philly cheesesteak — but the reader still felt the need to condemn my efforts. Sheesh people, it’s a sandwich.)
Now with that off my chest — here goes… My Cuban panini starts with Cuban bread of course. This is readily available in all the markets in South Florida, but if you can’t find it – look for a sub roll that’s soft inside with a not-too-crusty, mashable exterior. Next comes deli ham. I’m not much for deli lunch meats, but in this instance, sliced sweet ham from the deli really does make this sandwich sing. It’s so paper thin that you’ll want to layer several slices on the bread so you get the flavor of the ham. Next is roast pork – for this, I used a leftover pork loin, sliced super thin.
Ok, so here’s where I veer off course from the authentic Cuban sandwich — the mustard... My husband likes plain yellow mustard — and that’s what is normally used… but I’ve got too much French in me, and I’ll always veer towards dijon mustard. He and I split this sandwich, so you can see I did my best to make us both happy….
Next comes the cheese– normally you use swiss cheese for a classic Cuban sandwich, but I prefer muenster (always have). I get it sliced thin at the deli and pile it on the bread, so that every bite has a bit of melty cheese. Dill pickles are a must and I find those thin sandwich slices are absolutely perfect here. I like the garlic-dill variety.
When the layers of the cuban panini are assembled, get out your pastry brush and brush both sides of the bread with melted butter — then place it on your panini press and press down firmly.
If you don’t have a panini press, use a heavy cast iron skillet to griddle the sandwich and wrap a brick or other heavy flat object in tin foil, and place it on top of the sandwich to weigh it down. A panini press will cook the top and bottom of the Cuban panini at once, but if you’re using a skillet, you’ll need to flip it half way through cooking.
Transfer the sandwich to a cutting board and cut it into individual servings. IMO, this (in) authentic Cuban sandwich is best served with a cold cerveza and chips!
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Table of Contents
- 1 loaf cuban bread
- ¼ cup mustard (yellow, spicy brown, or dijon)
- ½ pound muenster or swiss cheese thinly sliced
- dill pickles preferably sandwich slices
- ½ pound deli ham thinly sliced
- ½ pound roast pork thinly sliced <<< CLICK FOR RECIPE
- 1 tablespoon butter melted
- If using a panini press or griddle, heat it to a medium to medium high heat.
- Slice the bread lengthwise and spread both sides with mustard. Lay half of the cheese on the bottom slice of bread. Top with pickles, followed by ham and roast pork. Top with the other slice of bread and brush with melted butter.
- Place the sandwich in the panini press (Note: if sandwich is too large, carefully cut it in half or quarters and cook in two or three batches.)
- If cooking on a griddle, place the buttered side of the bread down on the griddle. Lay a piece of parchment paper over the sandwich and use a heavy cast iron skillet or other heavy pan to press the sandwich. Cook until cheese gets melty, then flip sandwich and continue cooking until the other side of the cheese melts and the sandwich is hot and crispy on the outside.
- Slice and serve.
I was looking for a Cuban sandwich recipe that featured pork loin and your photos have seduced me completely. I’m not much of a Panini or masher so am wondering, could I just put the sandwich in the oven and toast it? Or just toast the bread before assembling instead? Can’t wait to make this ASAP! P.S. Any suggestions for a side to serve with this beauty?
Lisa Lotts says
If you don’t want to press the sandwich, you could wrap it in foil and heat it in the oven at 350° for about 10-15 minutes. You want the cheese to get melty. That said, if you want to give it a quick press, it’s really good and gives the crust of the sandwich a delicious crunch.
As far as things to serve with it, here are a few of our faves:
Cilantro Lime Coleslaw
I was looking through this page, and your recipe, as well as the wonderful pictures…and this looks and sounds deliciously like the real deal, that I grew up eating in Union City, New Jersey in the late 1970s and early 80s and 90s, the only thing missing…is the squeeze bottle the Cubans would use, filled with “mojito” before the sandwich was pressed they’d squeeze some over the sandwich.
This is a Mojo recipe from 3 Guys From Miami:
3 heads garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 cups sour orange juice
(In a pinch, use two parts orange to one part lemon and one part lime)
1 cup minced onion
2 teaspoons oregano
1 cup Spanish olive oil
The mojo with oil marinade is also great for chicken, duck, fish, and so on. The oil prevents the meat from losing fat and moisture.
Mash garlic, salt, and peppercorns into a paste, using a mortar and pestle. Stir in sour orange juice, onion, and oregano. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or longer.
In a saucepan, heat olive oil to medium hot (approximately 220 degrees F) and remove from heat. Carefully whisk in the garlic-orange juice mixture (prepared above) until well blended.
This sounds awesome… Might have to make it its own recipe on the site… with credit to you of course.
I love a good Cubano sandwich! I also put Dijon on them when I make them at home…it’s really kind of wonderful on them! I’m a girl who loves Swiss, but I’ll have to try the Cubano with Muenster too. It melts beautifully, so I can imagine that it mingles well with the pork, ham, and pickles. Getting hungry over here!
I won’t tell the food police if you won’t! The thing is, I bet if you went into Cuban households, a lot of them would have twists too. It’s like pasta e fagioli soup, every Italian family has their own. As for your version of the Cuban sandwich, it sounds awesome! I’m totally on board with the dijon and the muenster since I prefer them as well. I’ll have to see what sorts of soft rolls they have up here in New England.
Marisa Franca says
You are so cruel!! Yes!! You’ve tapped on my weakness. Whenever we spend time in Florida we look for the ultimate Cuban sandwich. We even make a homemade Cuban bread so we can make the sandwiches. Oh, Lordy!! I already show Hubby the photos — I want one TODAY!!
That’s me, Marisa – a cruel, heartless food blogger.
This is fantastic! I only had my first Cuban sandwich a few years ago and I was floored. I mean, it sounds simple enough what with the deli meats, pickles, cheese, mustard… but there’s just something about this exact combination and the way it’s prepared and heated that’ll knock your socks off.
Jennifer Bigler says
Unfortunately, I have never had a cuban sandwich. After looking at these beautiful pictures I feel like I should be eating this all the time. It is right up my alley. Thank you for introducing me to something new!
Food always invites some very strong opinions… but what is it about sandwiches? Po’ boys, Cuban sandwiches, cheesesteaks… people get bent out of shape for doing them ‘wrong’ – which is especially funny when you think about the fact that sandwiches are all about conveniently putting whatever you like into a sandwich. But it’s not a universal issue – from what I’ve seen, there seem to be about a jillion different kinds of Mexican torta and everyone’s on board with that. In any case, I think your personal take on the Cuban sandwich sounds pretty dang tasty. There’s always room for variation in my mind – muenster sounds like an awesome little twist. Cheese can do so much to make or break a sandwich – and I for one am in favour of trying as many possibilities as possible. Haha.
Thank you Sean — I think that should be our mission — to try as many versions as their are — and THEN AND ONLY THEN — select the best!
I love that you split the sandwich’s mustard base! I’d totally do that just because I wouldn’t be able to decide which one I liked more. This sandwich needs to be in my stomach ASAP because it is DROOL-WORTHY!
I always wonder what possesses people to post bad comments on FB? Like why? If you don’t like something, move on! I once got a comment that said: “Bad video technique, good recipe”. I deleted it right away, especially because I actually thought my video was pretty good. I feel sad that you need to apologize and explain yourself about this sandwich. It’s a sandwich! Which, by the way, you took your time to develop, test, prepare, photograph, write, and all of it for free! Shame on people! Ok… sorry about this rant!
Now, on to your sandwich 🙂 It looks delicious and yummy! I’ve never had a sandwich like this specifically but I had Cuban Ham sandwich a few times when I went to Cuba. They are delicious – so simple, yet so flavourful!
Thanks for the food-blogging solidarity Julia! I think it’s the anonymity of the internet — people feel free to say anything. I’m so glad you like the sandwich! Whether or not it’s the “real one” it’s really good!
Wow..this is my kind of sandwich. I think I need to go shopping for some ingredients. What a great idea for dinner one night this week. You can never go wrong with a great sandwich….easy and so delicious.
oh my goodness! this looks and sounds so delicious and full of amazing flavors!
Tracy Koslicki says
This looks incredible and totally like the last Cubano I had when I was in Tampa- which was incredible and totally authentic. I want to make these at home but gosh I don’t think I can get Cuban bread here in the Pacific NW… I’ll have to look because this sandwich is calling my name!
If you can’t find Cuban bread — look for a roll that’s very soft inside, but with a thin, mashable crust. — but really, it’s gonna be good no matter what bread you use!
I have never tried a cuban sandwich. You make a compelling case with those gorgeous and helpful photos. Putting it on the griddle makes it even more appealing to me.
Nathan Wyper says
Wow, this looks awesome, That’s what i call a tasty looking sandwich.. I need to make this!
Jenni LeBaron says
Cubanos are one of my all-time favorite sandwiches and your recipe looks killer. Yum!
I appreciate that — this one didn’t last…
Yumm! I’ve always gotten cuban sandwiches from my local sandwich shop, but never even considered making one myself. This recipe looks delicious!
I’m loving the Muenster cheese. I would be very happy to eat your version of a Cuban sandwich!
Yum! I love sandwiches so this is right up my alley! Thanks for sharing.