The Classic Chef’s Cubano is easy to build


IT’S FUN to do a world tour of foods especially when it involves delicious things that you like to eat. Last time around we talked about soup and identified so many ethnic groups by the hot and yummy flavours that were in the bowl. This week I thought it appropriate to delve into soups best friend and perfect match . . . the almighty sandwich.

We’ve touched on the history of the sandwich before but to give a quick refresher, the savoury sandwich is believed to have been named after John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. The Earl liked his cards and didn’t want to take a break during a game and ordered his staff to bring him lunch between two slices of bread so he could eat while continuing his game and so the sandwich was born.

It obviously has since caught on and has a foothold in almost every country on the planet. Just like soup the sandwich can very easily let you identify its place of origin with some countries having many sandwiches linked to them. Here a few of the culinary greats from around the world:

  • USA: Muffaletta / Lobster Roll / Po’ Boy
  • Poland: Zapiekanka
  • Japan: Yakisoba
  • India: Vada Pav
  • Singapore: Roti John
  • Italy: Panini
  • Belgium: Mitrailette
  • South Africa: Gatsby
  • Trinidad and Tobago: Doubles
  • Turkey: Doner Kebab

Of course there are endless others all just waiting to be explored but the aforementioned list might keep your taste buds busy and satiated for at least a little while. I’ve enjoyed some of the world’s great “sammies” and some of them in the country they originated from, but one of my all-time favourites is the decadently delicious Cubano.

It’s pretty easy to guess where this one is from simply reading it by name and it is truly a simple sandwich to make but there is just something special about the Cubano and it definitely delivers on Tastitude.

I don’t know if it’s the beautiful crusty Cuban bread, the slow roasted pork loin, the salty deli ham, the brininess of the pickles, the earthy Swiss cheese or the slight bite of the mustard that makes it so tempting but it’s definitely a winning combination. Of course the fact that it’s smothered in butter and grilled on a plancha until it’s perfectly golden and melty doesn’t make it any less enticing.

There is some debate as to whether this sandwich actually originated in Cuba or was actually created in Tampa or Miami by the Cuban immigrants that had migrated to the region and had just brought along the flavours of home, but wherever it got its start, I’m just thankful the Cubano found its way to sandwich lovers everywhere.

Whether you’re a fan of a straight up ham and cheese, love a classic grilled cheese or are sandwich aficionado that revels in the thought of a Croque Monsieur the Cubano will probably make your top three the very first time you sink your teeth into one. So to help you along with your flavour exploration of the great sandwiches of the world here’s a classic recipe so you can build a Cubano of your very own.

Classic Chef’s Cubano

  • 3 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 8 inch portion of Cubano bread, cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 6 deli slices Black Forest ham
  • 2-3 slices slow roasted pork loin
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 whole dill pickle cut into slices, lengthwise

Spread mustard on both sides of interior of bread slices and layer on sliced cheese and ham, pork and sliced pickle. Close sandwich and butter outer crust on both sides of sandwich like you would prepare a grilled cheese.

Using a Plancha or Panini press, grill sandwiches until lightly charred, and cheese is melted, 6 to 8 minutes. If you don’t have a plancha or panini press you can use a cast iron pan and a weight grilling one side at a time with the weight on top or by applying continuous pressure on sandwich with a large spatula as you grill each side.

Remove sandwich and cut into two pieces on a diagonal corner to corner. Serve hot.

Richard Moorey (aka Chef House) can be reached with email to, through his website at, or on his Facebook group Evolution of Tastitude. You can follow him on Twitter @House_74.

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