Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cubano Sandwiches

Our recent Havana Nights party is still very fresh in my mind and I'm hungry just thinking about the wonderful dishes we made. While our main dish, Arroz con Pollo, was cooking up, we all whet our appetite with one of my favorite sandwiches - Cubano Sandwiches. The seasoned slices of pork roast and bite of dill pickle elevates this sandwich into something beyond the typical ham and cheese you may be familiar with...

This is not your regular ham and cheese sandwich. To make it special, slices of pork and dill pickle make their appearance alongside ham, swiss and mayo/mustard. There's something about the combination of all these ingredients that really work! But it's not just the fillings of this sandwich that make it so delicious. There's magic in the bread used. Your everyday sliced bread isn't going to cut it. Not even French bread. Cuban bread is ideal in making this sandwich because toasts up so beautifully with a buttery crispness on the outside, yet soft and delicate on the inside. Granted, Cuban bread may not be easily available in your area but there is a good substitution. If you have a Latin market, look for bolillo bread. Some supermarket chains also carry this in their fresh bakery section. Bolillo bread is traditional Mexican and is football shaped. When toasted or pressed, as in this sandwich, it comes out wonderfully and can really hold this sandwich together. That's what I used for our Havana Nights Party and it worked perfectly in lieu of traditional Cuban bread...

Cubano Sandwiches
recipe adapted from Alton Brown

1 loaf (12-inch) Cuban bread or Mexican bolillo rolls
2 tablespoons mayonnaise or mustard, or to taste
2 slices kosher dill pickle, very thinly sliced lengthwise
3 to 4 slices Swiss cheese
4 slices of seasoned roast pork
4 slices black forest ham
Melted butter or cooking spray

Heat the panini press to 350 degrees.

Slice the bread or rolls in half lengthwise and spread the mayo or mustard on the bottom bread. Layer the roast pork, ham, pickle and cheese {in this order} onto the bottom bread.

Place the sandwich on hot panini press and spread a little melted butter on top of the bread or spray with cooking spray. Press down the top part of the plancha and allow to toast and crisp up until cheese melts through, roughly 7-10 minutes. Slice on a bias and serve hot.