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Cuban Panini {Foreign Origin?}

Cuban Panini

Cuban Panini

Living near the Northern border of the U.S. all of my life, I came late to what is called a ‘Cubano’ or Cuban sandwich. I ordered one in a diner a few years ago and thought it was fun to have pickle slices right in the sandwich, instead of on the side. Not to mention the presence of both turkey and ham in the sandwich. And lots of cheese of course.

When we’re dining out I usually give my pickle wedges to my P.S. (Pickle Snacker/hubby). I don’t enjoy them all that much, but in this sandwich they seem natural and just right. In writing this post I was curious about the pickle being included and assumed it was something created in Cuba, due to the name of the sandwich.

Not so, I learned some say the sandwich was possibly created in Florida in cafes that catered to Cuban workers. Others say the idea emigrated to Florida because Cuban workers asked for the food they were used to eating back in Cuba. Whatever the genesis, it’s agreed that it is made on Cuban bread spread with mustard, then layered with roast pork, glazed ham, sliced pickles and Swiss cheese. It’s usually made in a press similar to a Panini press, where it gets the crispy texture.

Rustic Asiago Cheese Bread

Rustic Asiago Cheese Bread

I had picked up a loaf of rustic bread that was perfect for our Cuban lunch. I spread layers of mayo and whole grain mustard on the slices, then layered slices of deli turkey and black forest ham.

Layer ingredients

Layer ingredients

My pickles were already cut in wedges so I had to improvise and slice them thinner before layering them on the meat. I topped each sandwich with two slices of Swiss cheese and placed the top slice of bread over them. I buttered the tops, then flipped them and buttered the bottoms.

Butter tops and bottoms and place on Panini press

Butter tops and bottoms and place on Panini press

I placed the Cubans on my preheated Panini press and seared them until I could see the cheese was melted and they had nice brown marks on the bread. I served them for lunch with a cup of soup and they were absolutely delicious.

Close the lid and heat until browned

Close the lid and heat until browned

The mustard and the pickles both bring a nice snap to the sandwiches. The creamy cheese that ties it all together is an excellent contrast to the crispiness of the exterior.  It’s like eating something that is a bit foreign to me, but I could definitely see how it might be comfort food once you learn to love the flavors.  I’m on my way!

Cuban Panini

Cuban Panini

Cuban Panini

2 slices bread of choice
mayo
whole grain mustard
slices roasted  ham
slices roasted turkey
slices Swiss cheese
slices of dill pickle

Preheat Panini press.

Spread each slice of bread with mayo and mustard.  Layer Swiss cheese on one side, topped with layers of ham, turkey and pickle slices.  Top with second slice of bread.  Spread butter on top slice, then flip sandwich and butter the other side.

Place in Panini press, close lid.  Cook until bread is browned and crispy.

Makes 1 sandwich.  Increase ingredients if more sandwiches desired.

Cuban Panini

Cuban Panini

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