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Authentic Cubano Sandwich

Recipe Info

Difficulty: Easy
Mess Level: Moderate
Yield: 2 Sandwiches
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 1 hr


For the Pork

  • 1 LB Pork Loin or Pork Shoulder
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Lime
  • 3 Cups fresh squeezed Orange Juice (packaged OJ is fine too)
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper Corn
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 teaspoons Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cumin
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, smashed

For the Sandwich

  • 12 Shaved pieces Pork
  • 12 Shaved pieces Brown Sugar Ham
  • 24 Shaved pieces Swiss Cheese (I like Jarlsberg)
  • 7 Dill Pickle Chips
  • Yellow Mustard
  • 1 White Baguette
  • 2 Tablespoons Softened Butter


For the Pork

  1. Brine the Pork if desired (4 Tablespoons Kosher Salt to 4 Cups of water). To brine, Dissolve the salt in two Cups of water on the stove with any desired spices. Once the salt is dissolved, add in two cups, very cold water. Once your brine has cooled, submerge the pork in the brine for up to 12 hours. Rinse the brine off before cooking the pork.
  2. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
  3. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
  4. Place your pork in a Dutch Oven, Cast Iron skillet or casserole dish with high sides and add the orange juice, lemon & lime juice, peppercorns, cumin, oregano and smashed garlic. Cover with foil and roast until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145 Fahrenheit. This may take anywhere from 20-50 minutes depending on the size of the pork and oven. Rest the pork for at least 10 minutes and then slice very thin.

To Make the Cubanos

  1. Brown the ham in a skillet on the stove, traditionally the pork is not browned so it can maintain its unique, citrus flavor.
  2. Cut your baguette at a 45-degree angle and then slice it all the way in half like a sub sandwich. You should get two large sandwiches out of the baguette. (the ends of mine were very dry, if yours is fresh you might get three sandwiches).

To Build it Authentically

  1. Lay the bread cut-side up and put a ribbon of yellow mustard down the bottom half. Layer six pieces of pork, three pieces of cheese and the pickles.
  2. On the top half, layer six pieces of ham and six pieces of cheese. Close the sandwich, butter the panini press and butter the top of the bread. Press the sandwich until the bread is golden and the cheese is melty.
  3. To make without a panini press, leave the pickles off and broil the layered sandwich open-faced until the cheese melts. Add the pickles, close the sandwich and toast the sandwich on the stove until the bread is golden. Enjoy!

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Savannah Says...

  1. What’s the difference between a Brine and a Marinade?

    1. Brine vs Marinade:
      A brine uses the same solution of salt to water as mammal's cells. This allows it to penetrate all the way into the meat. A marinade is largely acid and penetrates only the outer cells of the meat.
  2. Why should I Rest my meat before cutting?

    1. Rest is good!
      Meat is muscle. When you cook meat the muscle fibers become very tight, pulling all the moisture towards the middle. Resting lets the fibers relax and the juices flow back towards the edges, giving you a much more tender and juicy dinner!
  3. Why should I Smash my Garlic before cooking?

    1. Because it's fun and...
      It releases more of the garlic's flavor!

Ramblings of a Line Cook

I had a dream… A dream of the steamy Miami air, a frosty beer in a bottle, a suntan settling into my skin and a man in a food truck handing me a freshly pressed Cuban Sandwich in all its mustardy-cheesy glory. I had this dream because it hit sixty degrees in Northern Colorado in February and I instantly felt like it was summer.

A Cubano or Cuban Sandwich is a delicious concoction using as much cheese as there is meat and it is always pressed. I didn’t have a sandwich press but that didn’t faze me in the slightest. I pressed through the Saturday grocery store crowd and arrived home with a lot of cheese and ambition. Cheese goes with anything if you didn’t know, even ambition.

The sandwich making went fairly smoothly right up until I tried to press it using two cast iron skillets. One on the stove and one I had heated to 350 in the oven. I pressed and pressed and then the Cubano's insides all came out and the whole thing fell apart. I blame the slippery pickles. This seemed at the time a larger catastrophe than it actually was but after eating that one I felt much better and tried again, melting the cheese under the broiler at Tony’s suggestion. Tada! An authentic Cubano.

Whether it falls apart or looks like it belongs on the cover of Food & Wine magazine, it will be knock-your-socks-off delicious. Although I do recommend getting a panini press if you’re that determined to make it authentic. Enjoy!

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