Latin Twist: The Cuban Sandwich


Chicken Cuban_smaller Chicken Cuban with Arugula–served with a Spinach Salad
Photo by Sofia Markusfeld

My love for the Cuban sandwich started in Miami, many moons ago. In fact, upon arrival at Miami International Airport, before collecting my luggage and/or calling my friends, I’d make a stop in La Carreta, and pick up my Cuban sandwich (and my pastel de guava con queso, y un cafecito). And when I was leaving Miami, I’d do the same thing to get my last fix before flying.

My passion for the Cuban sandwich continues to grow and, mis queridos amigos, I’d like to share this affection with you. Now you’ve heard me talk about all different dishes being like blank canvases; the Cuban sandwich is no exception. The traditional version is made with ham, roast pork, pickles, and mustard y por supuesto, bread of substance. Today, my friends, I’d like to give a point from which you can improvise. The cousin of the panini is flexible, but these are my three cardinal rules for the creation of this treat:

1) The bread must be great!
You need bread with, as one fellow blogger coined it, “chewability”! You have to have something that has bite, and that isn’t too airy! It’s a kind of French baguette type of bread, but it has to have some density.

2) Condiments are key!
Whether it’s mustard, or a kind of chimichurri (personal favorite), or something in between, condiments add flavor and contrast to your Cuban sandwich.

3) Fillings should be fun!
The classic components are great, but the sky’s the limit! Marinated and shredded chicken with arugula, farm fresh grape tomatoes, Manchego, and some chimichurri (pictured here!) is a great combo! For vegetarians, garlic-marinated portobellos, with roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, and cilantro pesto is also a wonderful layering of sandwich flavors. Again, friends, the play-with-your-food rules apply here as well!

For some other options and more inspiration, check out Maria Reina’s post on the Cuban sandwich!

And, of course, ¡Buen provecho! Enjoy!


About Author

Maybe it was the dinner parties my mom always threw—or the hours I spent prepping and cooking alongside her (and then on my own!). Or maybe it was array of fabulous dishes that my family sampled in New York City’s richly diverse restaurants, but I’ve loved creating, savoring, and sharing food for as long as I can remember. Living in Spain, and later in Peru, also greatly influenced my life. These years abroad taught me Spanish—and about living in different countries--but also introduced me to teaching English as a second language, which I’ve done—mostly in the US-- for the past 20-plus (yikes!) years. I’ve authored two cocktail/tapas books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers, coauthored more than 15 others (mostly food related!), and raised two children. Now I'm chef and owner of my own restaurant, Mambo 64 in Tuckahoe, New York. My message is the same, whether I'm teaching, writing, running the restaurant or being a regular guest on the Spanish-language network Telemundo (on the morning show, Buenos Días Nueva York!). My belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one: the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth. Enjoy!

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