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Mini Cuban Sandwiches

January 7, 2010

Many moons ago, when SoupAddict first researched the authentic Cuban sandwich, she found pages upon pages on the Interwebs of amazingly passionate arguments regarding every detail of the sandwich, from the bread to the pork marinade to the type of mustard (or none at all). So voluminous was the discussion on the topic that she worried that she had been living under a rock, existing as she had, for many years, completely in the dark as to the controversial depth of this subject matter. “If you use Gouda cheese instead of Swiss, you will be doomed to the bowels of Hell!”  But wait! SoupAddict likes Gouda, especially aged Gouda. What’s a girl to do?

In the end, it was all just a cacophony to SoupAddict’s ears, as she simply wanted something that would come close to the real thing, whatever the real thing might be, without suffering mental anguish about the results.

So, SoupAddict’s philosophy quickly became, “don’t sweat the details, dearie” and just got on with it, picking what sounded good rather than what sounded authentic. And now she will share this with you in mini form, because it’s hard to be grumpy and argumentative about anything when you’re looking at a plate full of cute mini buns stuffed with pork and cheese. That’s SoupAddict’s philosophy.

SoupAddict will just get it right out there and say, this is not authentic Cuban bread. These are mini-buns from Kroger, serving the public’s ever-evolving need for small sandwiches. (SoupAddict understands the slider craze, growing up as she did on White Castles.) SoupAddict has, however, baked authentic Cuban bread before, and it is quite delicious (and made with lard).
Here, SoupAddict has selected authentic meats prepared unauthentically. The pork should’ve been marinated in some sort of mojo sauce (the ingredients of which invite much controversy itself). This pork tenderloin was purchased pre-cooked and pre-seasoned. What can SoupAddict say? Sometimes, she’s just a lazy girl. The Black Forest ham is definitely not authentic boiled ham, but it’s SoupAddict’s favorite (and frankly, just the name “boiled ham” makes SoupAddict’s tummy do a little flipsy-do, with visions of its shiny exterior and slimy texture).
Many condiment detractors argue that … wait … SoupAddict! Stop playing with your food!
Okay. Sorry.
Anyway, many argue that an authentic Cuban sandwich does not have condiments at all, much less mustard. Miamians, in general, will argue that yellow mustard is the only way to go. SoupAddict tried it with the yellow mustard, and sided with the Miamians on this point.
SoupAddict is being only semi-controversial here. Jarlsberg is Swiss cheese, but she’s using the “lite” version, in keeping with her self-inflicted “eat healthier” mandate for 2010 (although, if you look at the packaging closely, you’ll see it’s called “Swiss Style Cheese.” Which is still fine by SoupAddict, because at least it has style, which is not something SoupAddict can claim about herself with any regularity).
Now, the assembly. (The assembly order is also … say it with me … controversial … but SoupAddict isn’t organized enough to get all hyped up about it. She’s lucky she doesn’t leave off ingredients (as you will soon see), much less worry about compiling them in the wrong order.) So, sprinkle some grated Swiss cheese on the bottom bun.
Then arrange thin pork slices to cover most of the bun.
Peeps, this is why you have to cut SoupAddict some slack about authenticity, because, in an exclusive behind-the-scenes reveal, seen only here on, SoupAddict actually had to back up and remove the ham and second sprinkling of cheese, because she forgot the dill pickles.

And if there’s anything that’s agreed upon by the Cuban-sandwich-loving global community, is that it must have dill pickles. So, don’t forget the dill pickles.

Next, pile on several layers of thinly sliced ham.
And top off with more cheese. Like so.
Ta-da! But wait, there’s more.

Cuban sandwiches are supposed be smashed flat and heated. When making full-sized sandwiches, with lard-filled bread, you wrap the sandwich tightly in foil and weight it down on the heat source with a cast iron skillet filled with bricks. (See? The complexity of this sandwich?)

Lacking ready access to a stash of bricks (mostly because they’re way at the back of her property, and it’s 10° out there right now, people, and SoupAddict is authentically lazy and wearing pale pink Crocs that are not permitted to be seen on her feet outside of her house, and which are not snow-worthy anyway), SoupAddict turns to her panini grill. It has two built-in advantages: it heats sandwiches lickety-split, and the hinged lid can, when called upon, smash things flat. And it does not talk to itself in run-on sentences.
Just kidding about the “smash things flat” thing. The panini grill lid is actually quite gentle on food, which is why SoupAddict is adding a little brute force to the situation to guarantee a smashed-flat result.
There. Sandwich is squooshed. Cheese is melted. Grill marks in place. If you don’t have a panini press, heat the sandwiches in a regular skillet, cover with a baking sheet, and then stack heavy stuff on top of the baking sheet (like, more pans or big cans and jars and stuff).
SoupAddict isn’t sure why, but the flat sandwich does taste better than the puffy. She’s satisfied, however, to leave that mystery a mystery. Similar to the one where she likes iced tea with a passion, but pretty much can’t stand hot tea (until it’s poured over ice).
Mini Cuban Sandwiches
  4   mini buns, sliced in half (Parkerhouse rolls have a texture that’s fairly similar to authentic Cuban bread)
  yellow mustard
  12 to 16 dill pickles slices (plan on 3 or 4 per sandwich)
  6 ounces Swiss cheese, grated or sliced medium
  1/2 lb pork tenderloin, cooked and sliced thinly
  1/2 lb deli ham, sliced thinly

Spread all bun halves with mustard. Top with pickle slices, cheese, pork and ham. Add more cheese, if desired, then top with bun. Repeat with the other 3 sandwiches.

Use a panini grill set to 350° to heat and flatten the sandwiches; or, place the assembled sandwiches in a skillet over medium-low heat, rest a baking sheet on top of the sandwiches, and weight down the sheet with bricks or another heavy skillet.

Remove from heat when cheese is melted. Serve immediately. (Sandwiches can be assembled and refrigerated for up to 2 days before heating.)

One Comment
  1. January 7, 2010 5:20 pm

    I lived in South Florida for years. I don’t miss the heat or the rude people, but I do miss Cuban Sandwiches and Conch Fritters! Making these tonight….

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