Cuban Sandwich by Larry Andersen

South Florida's

Cuban Sandwich

Key West Florida is but 90 miles from Cuba. Cubans have immigrated to Florida for many years to seek improved economic and social conditions. Some came in the 1890's to work in Ybor City’s cigar factories. In 1905, Casimiro Hernandez, opened a soup, sandwich and coffee shop. It was a popular stop for cigar plant worker to buy Cuban sandwiches, just like back home in Cuba, for their lunches. The family still operates the Columbia Restaurants and you can still get your own authentic Cuban sandwich. The Cuban community is fastidious about their sandwiches and animated discussions arise when the subject of the proper Cuban sandwich is broached. Miami versions still closely follow the original. Some Tampa area sandwiches add Genoa salami and reflect the large Italian immigration into the Tampa area.

The Cuban bread, a long rustic loaf, is made with lard and has a crisp and flaky crust. Some will argue that you cannot make a Cuban sandwich without the traditional Cuabn bread. The traditional, distinctive design on the bread is from a frond laid across the loaves after rising.

The “plancha,” a weighted grill that flattens and toasts the bread is another unique feature of the Cuban sandwich. You can use a cast iron skillet weighted with a brick, a waffle iron with flat plates, a George Foreman grill or my favorite, a Cuisinart Griddler, to make your sandwich.

Preparation: 30 minutes New Family Recipe
Makes 8 sandwiches Traditional
  • 1 loaf Cuban bread (or 2 loaves of French bread)
  • 1/2 pound baked ham, thinly sliced
  • 8 thin dill pickle lengthwise slices
  • Prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/2 pound roast pork, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound Genoa salami, if desired
  1. Slice the bread lengthwise and lay open. Spread a thin layer of mustard on both bread halves.
  2. Arrange ham, pork, pickle slices, Genoa salami if desirred and Swiss cheese evenly over the bottom slice of bread.
  3. Cover with the top halve of the bread. Cut into 4 equal segments.
  4. Grill and press sandwiches until the bread is browned, the cheese has melted and the sandwich is pressed to about 1/3 its original size.
  5. When toasted and the cheese melted, remove from heat and cut each sandwich in half diagonally. Serve while still hot with a bowl of Spanish bean soup or a plate of black beans and rice.

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Latest revision done February 2017
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