When I celebrated my 25th birthday at the end of July, I wanted nothing more than to spend time with my two favorite things – food and family. I spent the day at Fontana Beach in Wisconsin with my husband and sister and then invited my family over for dinner. Our menu was inspired by a movie my husband and I had recently watched, Chef. If you’re looking for a feel-good, foodie movie, go ahead and give this one a try. I guarantee you will watch the credits roll with a goofy smile on your face! While there are many mouth-watering, insanely good looking meals in this movie, there was one sandwich in particular that I wanted to give a try – the Cuban (aka Cubano). This sandwich is relatively easy to make and so delicious! With crusty bread, tangy pickles, and melty cheese, the cubano is sure to please! (Can you tell I’m a kindergarten teacher? Hear that rhyme I did there?)
Time to set the mood and get cooking!
What you’ll need*:
- crusty bread (preferably Cuban bread, but a french baguette works, or if you use what’s in your fridge like I did – sourdough!)
- sliced ham
- sliced pork (I used pork shoulder)
- swiss cheese
- yellow mustard
- dill pickles
- butter, softened
*Side note: I did not list measurements along with the ingredients because I’m pretty sure you know how much meat, cheese, and condiments you like on your sandwiches. I also think you’ll be able to adjust the amount of ingredients you use based on how many people you are serving. I believe in you!
What to do:
Before I begin listing the steps, we’ve got to talk about what makes this sandwich special. This sandwich is intended to be pressed, resulting in a golden, crusty bread that gives the Cuban a satisfying crunch with each bite. If you have a sandwich press, lucky you! Who actually owns a sandwich press though?? Unless you live at Panera, to which I will say again – lucky you!! I do not own a sandwich press. However, I do own two cast iron skillets. If you don’t own two cast iron skillets, please purchase them here. And then I guess you could probably just use two regular old sad pans instead.
- Heat two cast iron skillets on the stove. Get them nice and hot! Then please be very careful and use oven mitts while handling them.
- Slice your bread in half. Butter one side of each slice of bread (this will help it get that amazingly golden-brown crunch).
- Evenly spread mustard onto the unbuttered side of both slices of bread. You are going to get butter on your cutting board and that’s okay.
- Layer the ingredients on one slice of bread in this order: ham, pork, pickles, swiss cheese.
- Place the second slice of bread on top and gently set in a cast iron pan. Using oven mitts, lift the second cast iron skillet and place on top of the sandwich. Don’t press down right away, let gravity do it’s thing for a bit. If you press down too hard, too quickly it could potentially displace some of the sandwich’s precious contents and believe me, you don’t want to do that!
- Once the sandwich begins to settle, press the skillet down for a bit.
- Carefully remove the top skillet, make sure the bread has achieved that glorious golden-brown glow, and remove the sandwich from the bottom skillet.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the sandwich in half, triangle style.
- Scarf it down.
I’m going to be honest with you. I wasn’t able to get any really great pictures of these amazing Cubanos because I was too busy shoving them into my mouth as quickly as I could. I did however get to spend my birthday in a gloriously hot kitchen, smashing sandwiches between cast iron skillets, laughing with my family, and enjoying a delicious meal. Though I usually request what dish I want for my birthday, making dinner for my family was a great way to celebrate. To me, nothing is better than showing your family how much you love them than by feeding them. Like I said, two things I hold close to my heart – food and family.
Do you have a special food you like to enjoy on your birthday? Feel free to comment below and tell me about your favorite birthday meals and traditions!