One of my favorite sandwiches is “the Cuban”. Though it’s traditionally made with roast pork not roast beef, and glazed ham instead of turkey, I use what I have on hand and really enjoy this version! I do stick to the original choice of cheese, swiss cheese, also one of my favorites, but really enjoy it with a semi-sweet, dill pickle relish instead of sliced pickles (for easier digestion!) I decided to have a little extra fun this time and mixed up a light on the horseradish-mustard-mayo in place of the plain mustard. What I ended up with was a wonderful twist, with no disrespect to the original, grilled panini that I couldn’t put down until the last bite and every crumb was devoured! I love the traditional version as well, but use what we have on hand we must sometimes. No complaints here! It was absolutely delicious!
“The Cuban” flat-pressed sandwich has been around for a very long time and is still popular to this day, originating in the early to mid 1800’s (possibly much earlier) when migrant Cuban workers worked in cigar factories in Cuba and south Florida and traveled back and forth from Cuba to Key West, Miami and Tampa for work. It was primarily made with roast pork, glazed ham (and sometimes salami); dressed with mustard and thinly sliced pickles, and was layered onto a 3-foot long, baguette-style semi-soft (hard on the outside-soft on the inside) Cuban bread and pressed onto a hot grill and toasted until warmed and crispy on the outside. (Mouth watering yet?) No wonder this sandwich has tested time and remains as popular as it is!
I used a simple semi-soft baguette from the local grocery store that worked beautifully in my panini maker, but I cannot imagine how wonderful the original bread must have tasted! Baked by a bakery owner in a brick oven by an immigrant himself, these loaves were sold for 3-5 cents each, delivered every morning by deliverymen just like milk to the Tampa area community, and were left pressed onto a heavy nail that was driven into the doorframe next to the door! Can you just imagine something like that today?! Personally, I would LOVE it. Tragically, the original first (La Primera Bakery) establishment burned down leaving only the brick oven standing! But, the owner rebuilt it, made it even bigger, added a second oven, and it is still one of the leading sellers of Cuban bread to this day! (Definitely adding “La Segunda Bakery” to my bucket list of restaurants to travel to!) If you haven’t already tried this incredibly delicious sandwich, no matter what meats or cheeses you choose, I so hope you do so soon! It wouldn’t have lasted over 200 hundred + years if it wasn’t good, right? Enjoy!!
TURKEY AND ROAST BEEF CUBAN PANINI
1 ( 2 foot long) soft baguette, or anything your local bakery or store has in comparison in one long loaf, 2 smaller, or 4-6 individual, (*can sub ciabatta or a soft foccacia)
1/4 cup mustard of choice, or to taste
1/4 cup heavy mayo, or to taste
1 tsp. prepared horseradish, or to taste
1/4 tsp. minced garlic, or to taste
1 lb. very thinly sliced roast turkey
1 lb. very thinly sliced roast beef
8 slices swiss cheese, (*if swiss in not cared for, other cheeses that work well are havarti, provolone, mozzarella, monterey jack, and muenster)
4 Tbl. sweet, semi-sweet or dill pickle relish, (*sandwich-sliced dill pickles can be subbed, 2 slices per sandwich)
2-3 Tbl. canola or light olive oil, to baste outsides for grilling
Slice and split loaf (or loaves) of bread in half through the middle lengthwise and open up.
In small bowl, mix mustard, mayo, horseradish and garlic. *Adjust to own personal preference. Spread both insides with mixture.
On bottom half, nicely layer roast beef, turkey and swiss cheese slices.
On iside of top half, evenly spread pickle relish. (*If using pickle slices, place on top or under cheese.)
Place top half of bread on. Lightly press. Heat panini grill according to manufacturers suggested temperature, and slice sandwich in half, thirds or fourths. (*So it will fit the grilling surface size and will be easy to slice into halves again when serving.)
Turn sandwich over and lightly oil bottom of sandwich(s), place onto hot grill oiled side-down. Brush top(s) with oil and close lid lightly pressing. Grill until outsides are lightly browned. Repeat with all. Serve hot.
*If making a lot, you can keep them warm as you go in low oven on a baking sheet loosely covered with foil so steam can escape and sandwiches stay crispy on the outside. **Or, you can place them all onto a baking sheet, top with another baking sheet and a weight on top to press (such as a heavy oven-proof or cast iron pan or foil-wrapped bricks), and pop into a HOT oven and bake all at once.
*Shredded lettuce and paper-thin slices of tomato can also be added but sternly frowned upon by the traditionalists. 😉