The Cuban Sandwich: Communism Never Tasted So Good

February 4, 2011

In a previous post focusing on the genius of the sandwich, somehow we neglected to even give a casual mention to one of our all-time favorites, the Cuban sandwich.  It’s hard for sandwich historians (sandwichstorians?) to say where and when the sandwich was first invented.  It was being served around the turn of the 20th century in Cuba, as well as in Miami (by Cuban immigrants), but since travel between Cuba and Florida was so frequent (and legal) back then, no one can be certain where the sandwich began.  But there is little debate as to how the dish is composed and served.  Cuban bread (which is similar to Mexican torta rolls) is sliced, then topped with sliced roast pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard.  Traditionally it is then pressed like panini, and cut diagonally.  And it tastes as good as it sounds.  The only variance with regard to the ingredients is that in some places, salami is also added to the mix.  A lot of restaurants have begun offering their own versions of this dish, even the Cheesecake Factory (which also adds mayo for some reason), and locally at Pepper Jack’s, where they use pulled pork and top it with coleslaw.  These and other versions are fine, but for purists, it just doesn’t get any better than the original.  Our local supermarket recently had a sale on their roast pork, so today at the MHK we are eating our own version of the Cuban sandwich, using French bread and not-as-fresh roast pork.  But it’s still worth saying this:  Viva el emparedado cubano! (Long live the Cuban sandwich!)  Enjoy.

The Cuban Sandwich

(serves 4)

1 loaf French bread, quartered

8 oz. roast pork, sliced

8 oz. ham, sliced

8 slices Swiss cheese

Pickle slices


Slice each French bread quarter in half lengthwise.  Spread mustard to taste on each half.  Top one half with 2 oz. pork, 2 oz. ham, 2 slices cheese, and as many pickle slices as you like. Close the sandwich and press in sandwich press or in frying pan until cheese is melted.  Slice sandwich diagonally and serve. Eat!


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