Those of you who have been following my posts are most likely a bit weary of hearing me talk about my gastronomic experiences when I lived in South Florida. (Just wait until I start on my Irish heritage!) But you have to understand that things are different down there. I live in the Northeast, and while Italian cuisine is an almost daily part of our lives, you don't see the Big McD serving spaghetti and meatballs. When I lived in Miami, however, MacDonald's did serve the classic Cuban Sandwich as well as Dulce de Leche shakes. And you know if MacDonald's carries it on their menu, it must be good. Um...that was a joke. (Please note: I did not, nor would I ever, eat a Cuban sandwich from MacDonald's. Heresy. Just plain heresy.)
No culinary round-up of Miami would be complete without a discussion about the two classic Cuban sandwiches, the (aptly named) Cuban Sandwich (also known as the Cubano) and the Medianoche. In South Florida, these two sandwiches have all but replaced our beloved tuna melts and blt's on the deli menus. And rightly so. They are delicious.
The most important parts of both of these sandwiches are the bread and the pork. The bread must be Cuban bread (sweet yellow bread for the Medianoche), and the pork must be slow roasted.
The Medianoche got its name from the time it is generally eaten: midnight. In the United States, we may end a night of dancing with bacon, eggs and coffee at the local diner, but in Cuba, it's a Medianoche. Once you taste it, you'll understand why.
Traditional Cuban Sandwich
1 6" loaf Cuban bread (grinder/submarine/hoagie roll can substitue in a pinch)
4 slices ham
4 slices roasted pork
2 slices swiss cheese
1 dill pickle, cut into thin lengthwise strips
Slice the bread horizontally in half, leaving one edge intact. Spread mustard on one side of the bread and mayonnaise on the other.
Layer the ingredients, starting with the ham, pork, cheese and then pickles. Close up the sandwich. Preheat a sandwich press. If you do not have a sandwich press, you can subsitute a panini press or simply use a cast iron pan with another cast iron pan or a brick wrapped in tin foil to weight the sandwich down.
Butter or oil both sides of the press of panini maker. Place the bread in the pan and cook until the cheese is melted and the bread is slightly hard to the touch. (Note: If you are not using a panini or sandwich press, you will have to flip the sandwich halfway through cooking.) Remove from heat and enjoy!
Follow the directions for the Cuban sandwich. Use Cuban sweet bread (or substitute Jewish Challah egg bread). Omit the mayonnaise and mustard.