The Traditional Cuban Sandwich (Recipe)
Cuban Food And Family Legacy
Food traditions in family legacy, for me, isn’t just another way to celebrate Hispanic heritage. I do believe food and cultural identity go hand in hand, but it goes deeper. Not many know that, several years after immigrating to the states, my grandparents opened a market. Known as just The Market within my family, Papi built an empire around food, Cuban recipes and, ultimately, real estate. Needless to say, I’ve eaten my fair share of the Cuban sandwich.
The Traditional Cuban Sandwich
Traditionally made with Cuban bread (which my grandfather baked fresh in his market), the Cuban sandwich is a pressed masterpiece of salty pork and pickles, tangy mustard and smothered in Swiss cheese. Since I don’t have easy access to Cuban bread (which resembles French or Italian bread), I opted for Bolillo bread. This is a typical Mexican bread that can be found at many super markets. I bought mine at Kroger (Smith’s for Vegas people, Ralph’s for Cali), 3 for $1.
Cuban Sandwich recipes call for two types of pork – roasted lechon and cured ham. After my family enjoyed my Slow Cooker Cuban Pork (Lechon Asado made in the crock pot – super easy and yummy!), I used the leftovers to make a traditional Cuban sandwich. It was a hit!
The Cuban Sandwich Recipe
1 loaf of Cuban bread (or Bolillo, French or Italian – we love all breads over here!)
Yellow mustard, to taste
5-8 ounces of cured ham, high quality deli ham works great (I used black forest ham)
5-8 ounces of Lechon Asado (roasted pork)
1-2 slices of Swiss Cheese
Dill pickles, usually whole pickles sliced lengthwise but rounds work fine too
Butter, softened (enough to coat outsides of bread)
Slice loaf of bread lengthwise. Assemble sandwich by slathering mustard per your taste, deli ham, roasted pork, pickles, slices of Swiss cheese. Spread one side of the bread with butter and place on grill pan or panini press. Cook until cheese has started to melt and bread has toasted. Flip, spreading butter outside again, and cook until golden brown. Cuban sandwiches are pressed, so get that little guy nice and flat. Enjoy!
The Cuban Sandwich makes a regular Saturday afternoon extra special. And the little bit of additional time to put this together was all worth it when Alina shouted to me, “Mama, you make the best Cuban sandwich ever!“. Seems like such a simple statement, but one that filled my heart with so much pride. I also had the chance to share with her how Papi loved to make Cuban Sandwiches, and how her great uncle (my Tio) probably makes the best Cuban Sandwich in all over LA.
Food culture can become tradition that create a family legacy. But somehow, for me, Cuban recipes also speak to my family legacy of immigration and the American dream. Two aspects that I hope my children never take for granted.
Cuban Burger Recipe!
For another fun Cuban recipe, try this fun twist on an American classic, the Cuban Burger Recipe!