Ahhh, the Cubano, AKA the Cuban Sandwich, AKA the Cuban mix, AKA the Mixto, AKA the Medianoche. Medianoche is easily the coolest of all the names, not only because it rolls off the tongue so pleasantly, but because it’s Spanish for midnight.
And midnight is easily the coolest time to be awake. I also happen to subscribe to the idea that things usually start to go downhill after midnight, so I feel like it’s the perfect time to leave wherever you may be and go and get a sandwich to wind down the night.
And what better sandwich could there be? Crisp, butter-pressed bread, gooey swiss cheese, sharp mustard and acidic pickles and the meaty deliciousness of both ham AND cooked pork.
It hits all those flavour notes that are most desirable at, or just after, medianoche. Crisp, soft, melty, crunchy, porky, salty, buttery, and bold. This is the perfect way to end an evening, whether you were at a rager or at the opera. There is no party that cannot be improved by ending it with a Cubano.
I feel like I can’t really write a post about the Cuban sandwich without mentioning the movie Chef. And hey, if the goal of that movie was to make me want to eat one of these sandwiches, then mission accomplished Jon Favreau. The food porn was off the scale, and the veracity of the Chef-iness seemed in line with what Anthony Bourdain tells me.
If I find it hard to believe that a Chef played by Jon Favreau could have romantic ties to both Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johannsen and it bummed me out that they were pretty much the only women who appeared in the movie in a sea of dudes, then perhaps that is another story for another time.
That movie truly was what brought the Cuban sandwich into my life, though, and for that I am eternally grateful. Because this baby is like a toasted ham and cheese on steroids. It’s the reason that I never want to not have leftover pork in my freezer, just in case I feel the urge for a medianoche come over me.
These babies are GOOOD EATING. So thank you Cuba, thank you Cubans now living in the USA, and thank you Jon Favreau. If you happened to catch the movie Chef, let me know what you thought of it in the comments!
- ½ cup cooked pulled pork (or more to taste)
- 2 pieces of white baguette (about 6 inches)
- American (yellow) mustard
- 6 thin slices swiss cheese
- 1 dill pickle, thinly sliced.
- 4 thin slices of smoked leg ham
- softened butter, to cook
- First thing's first, I like to reheat the cooked pork, before it goes into the sandwich. I do this in a small saucepan with a splash of water. This is a good chance to add salt and pepper to your pork, if you think it needs it.
- Now, to assemble the sandwich, slice the baguettes in half lengthways and generously spread with mustard. Lay over the cheese, covering both sides of the sandwich.
- Divide the sliced pickles between the two sandwiches, and then lay the ham on one side of each sandwich, followed by the pork. Close the sandwich, and press down gently but firmly to squash everything together.
- To cook the sandwich, a panini press is great and if you have one, just butter the sandwich and paninni it until the filling is hot and melted and the outside is crisp.
- But if you don't have one any large frying pan will do. Generously coat the outside of the sandwiches with softened butter, and place into a preheated pan over a low heat. Place a piece of foil over the sandwiches and then top with something heavy and flat (like a cast iron skillet, or another frying pan) and press down to achieve that pressed sandwich look.
- Cook over a low heat for 3-4 minutes being careful not to burn the sandwich. Remove the top pan (careful, it might be hot) and the foil, flip the sandwiches and then replace the foil and the top pan, pressing down carefully again. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes or until the filling is hot and melted and the outside is crisp. EAT THEM.