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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Which Sandwich is Which?

The Cuban Sandwich, or Cubano, has been getting a lot of press in Chicago lately. Simply speaking, the Cubano is a hefty sandwich of sliced ham and roast pork, cheese and pickle, layered on a hearty roll with mayo and grilled in a sandwich press.

The Cubano's cousin, the Medianoche (midnight sandwich) is about the same with a few differences. A cursory search of the web shows the Midnight is so named because of the time it is usually eaten, late at night maybe after dancing. It might be smaller for lighter appetites, sweeter than the Cubano due to an enriched egg bread instead of the roll, and/or have lettuce and tomato layered with the other ingredients. One friend told me the Medianoche was not grilled (maybe too much trouble at midnight?) but web sources show it grilled in the same way as the Cubano.

Back in the day, I used to enjoy a Slim Jim sandwich at the Big Boy restaurants in the Detroit area. This was a distant cousin of the Cubano - sliced ham and cheese with "secret sauce" grilled on a "Grecian" roll. Close, but no Havana Cigar!

Enjoy your Cubano with a cup of Cafe Cubano, or as I like to call it, "Have a little coffee with your hot milk"! The Medianoche might go better with a beer, unless you are unaffected by late night caffeine, you're drinking decaf, or you made the Medianoche at noon!

To properly enjoy your Cubano you'll need Pernil - seasoned roasted pork. Failing that, roast your pork in the usual way and make sure to keep enough leftovers for sandwiches later in the week. This may become part of your repertoire.

You need bread - Italian, French or Cuban style. The kind of bread you might use to make homemade garlic bread or a Dagwood or Submarine Sandwich. Slice it in half and spread with mayonnaise. Layer on sliced ham and roast pork, slices of Swiss cheese and pickles. Use sweet or dill. The long pickle slices may be easier to handle. Wrap the sandwich in foil (optional but recommended, especially if you will be heating the Cubano in the oven, or if you have brushed the outsides with melted butter).

Cook the sandwich in a panini or sandwich press. Your George Foreman grill will make a good substitute (you may have to cut the sandwich into smaller portions to fit). Use a grill pan, if you have one, or just use a cast iron skillet. I recommend low heat, preheating the skillet with another smaller skillet resting inside, so the insides will heat and melt while the outsides toast rather than burn. Place the smaller skillet on top of the sandwich and press. You will have to flip the sandwich over to toast both sides (not necessary with the grill or panini).

For oven cooking wrap the sandwich in foil and place on a baking sheet. Place a second baking sheet on top and weight it with your heaviest cast iron pan. Heat in an oven preheated to 350, about 30 minutes until hot and toasty. Unwrap and slice on the diagonal into serving pieces.

For a great recipe for roast pork, google "Pernil" or "Daisy Martinez".

Quotable Quotes; in the category Ah, but THIS I understand!

"Too few people understand a really good sandwich".

James Beard

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