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from The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches by Susan Russo

4 loaves Cuban bread
A few tablespoons butter
Sliced dill pickles
1 pound lechon asado
1 pound sliced sweet-cured ham
1/2 pound mild Swiss cheese
Yellow mustard, optional

Makes 6

This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches
by Susan Russo from Quirk Books


A good Cubano consists of lechón asado, pork loin roasted with a mojo marinade; jamon dulce, a succulent sweet-cured ham; and lots of Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, and sliced pickles packed securely into a small loaf of crusty Cuban bread. This sandwich is traditionally toasted and flattened by a press called aplancha until the meats and cheese melt into gooey perfection.

In the late 1800s, Cuban immigrants working in Florida's first cigar factories and sugar mills routinely brought Cubanos for lunch. It is impossible to ascertain whether the sandwich was a distinctly Cuban or Cuban American creation. Most food historians agree that it's the result of several ethnic cuisines: The Cubans introduced the mojo, the Spanish introduced the ham, the Cuban Americans introduced the fixins, and the Italians introduced the salami found in some variations. By the early 1900s, Cuban samlwiches were offered in caf├ęs, cafeterias, and mom-and-pop restaurants throughout Cuba and Ybor City, Florida. Although many consider the Cubano part of Miami's culinary history, aficionados are quick to point out that Ybor City holds the distinct honor of being this sandwich's home. Locals there agree that the most delicious and authentic ones are bought at loncherias, small inexpensive street-corner snack bars.

This authentic recipe is reprinted with permission from Three Guys from Miami Cook Cuban by Glenn Mo Lindgren, Raál Musibay, and Jorge Castillo-three guys who love their Cubanos. flattened form. Simply use a panifli press or pace the sandwich in a hot cast-iron skillet and cover with a heavy weight-a pan or a tin-foil-wrapped brick-as it cooks.

Preheat a lightly greased pancake griddle or large frying pan. Slice bread into sections about 8 inches long. Cut these in half lengthwise and spread butter inside. Add pickles, lechon asado, ham, and cheese. Be generous! If using mustard, add before closing sandwich.

Place sandwich on the hot pan and flatten it, compressing bread to about one-third its original size. Grill 2 or 3 minutes on each side, until cheese is melted and bread is golden. Slice sandwich in half on the diagonal and serve hot. Makes 4

Medianoche: Serve a Cubano on small sweet bread, such as egg bread or Jewish challah.

As its name suggests (medianoche is Spanish for "midnight"), this slightly sweet version of the Cubano is a popular late-night snack eaten after an evening of dancing or partying.

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