August 18, 2011

Cubanos, My Way

I’m not normally a sandwich for dinner kind of girl. But for this sandwich, I make an exception.

The original recipe, from Bon Appetit, is called the Monte Cubano. It combines a Cubano – the classic Cuban sandwich of Swiss cheese, pickles, meats and mustard with a Monte Cristo, a ham and cheese sandwich that’s dipped in an egg batter and fried.

This recipe just screamed “Customize Me!” I’m not a picky eater in the sense that I love lots of different foods and flavors and I’m always up for trying something new. On the other hand, there are some things that I know I don’t like (cilantro!) and I have definite preferences.

So I took this recipe and made it my own.

My first step was to eliminate the “Monte” part. I’m not opposed to the idea of dipping a sandwich in egg and then frying it. I do love French toast, after all. But for this sandwich, the egg batter seemed like overkill.

I moved on to the Cubano part. A traditional cubano includes both ham and roasted pork. This sounded like way too much meat for one sandwich, so I stuck with the ham and left out the pork. I substituted muenster cheese for the Swiss because that’s what I had at home. I left the mustard and pickles in place.

The best part of this sandwich is the garlicky mayonnaise. I’m not sure if this condiment is traditional in Cubanos or Monte Cristos, but whether it’s authentic or not, it really makes the sandwich. The garlic mellows a touch while the sandwich cooks, but it holds on to enough of its sharp heat to perk up the other ingredients.

Cubanos are pressed sandwiches. Next time I make this I’ll probably stick it in my panini press. But this time I buttered up the bread and cooked it on a skillet like a grilled cheese sandwich.

As you can see from the photos, I made extra. These sandwiches reheat beautifully. 

Take this recipe. Change it around. Have it your way.

First make the garlic mayo. Start with a few cloves of garlic.

Run a knife through them a few times until they’re chopped into smaller pieces.

Now sprinkle with salt.

And continue to chop more and more finely.

Once the pieces are nice and small, turn your knife on its side and begin to mash the garlic into a paste. The salt will give you some traction and make this job a little easier.

Mix the garlic paste into your mayo and set aside.

Now to assemble the sandwich. I used a hearty Pullman loaf. Use a sturdy bread, something that won’t buckle under the weight of the fillings.

Spread mustard on the bottom bread.

Add some ham,

pickles (I used kosher dill),

and cheese.

Spread garlic mayo on the top slice of bread.

Place the top slice on the sandwich and butter it.

Grill the sandwich, buttered-side down first. While this side is grilling, spread butter on the top. (I prefer to butter the bread rather than melting butter in the pan.)

Once the first side is golden brown, flip it over and cook the second side for a minute or two.

As each sandwich cooks, set it on a cooling rack. This will allow your sandwich to cool without getting soggy.

Cut your sandwich in half.

And enjoy!

Cubanos, My Way

Adapted from Bon Appetit

2 slices firm bread
1 to 2 tsp mustard
3 dill pickle slices
2 slices boiled ham
1 slice muenster cheese
½ garlic clove
½ Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp butter, softened

1.      Mix and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Then mix with mayonnaise.

2.      Spread one slice of bread with mustard. Top with ham, then pickles, then cheese. Spread garlic mayonnaise on remaining slice of bread and assemble sandwich. Spread butter on top of sandwich.

3.      Grill in a preheated, nonstick skillet for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until bread is golden brown.

4.      Serve warm.

Makes 1 sandwich

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