I go deep-sea fishing in Key West just about every year and that’s where we first discovered one of the greatest sandwiches on planet Earth… the Cuban Sandwich. Since the 1800’s, there were a great many Cuban workers in Key West in the cigar factories, and this was their favorite go-to lunch. And since Cuba is only about ninety miles away, families sailed back and forth with ease to Kew West for more than a hundred years. Most folks in Key West claim the Cuban sandwich originated right there, although the folks in Tampa and Miami would probably beg to differ. But one thing is for sure… I often heard an old expression… “the Cuban sandwich was born in Cuba and educated in Key West”.
The ingredients for a traditional Cuban are usually these… Cuban bread (Mexican torta or ciabatta are also very good), roast pork (Pernil or pulled pork with Mojo are fabulous), sliced ham (we use applewood smoked ham), salami (we use both Genoa and Sopressata), Swiss cheese (we like to add another Emmentaler cheese, Gruyere, and also smoked Provolone), yellow mustard (we only use Plochman’s), and thinly sliced dill pickles (we use Claussen). Traditionally the cheese is applied to both sides, so that when they get melty in the hot press, that holds everything together. Now comes the meats with the yellow mustard smeared all over the place and then pickles in the middle.
When the sandwich is prepared, both the top and the bottom of the bread is lightly buttered and then placed in a hot press with weight on top… about 4 minutes on each side of the sandwich. Traditionally in Key West they use a plancha, but we like to use a panini because we like the cool seared grooves.
When the cheese is all melty and the meats are warm, you slice it horizontally and serve with potato chips and more pickles.
We also use a green spicy salsa made from jalapeños or some spicy red sauce like Frank’s Original. Why not give it a whirl, you will likely find it as addictive as we do. Enjoy!