I have really let this project go by the wayside lately! Honestly, we're lucky to get proper meals at home ever during the spring, never mind try new recipes! We actually made our Cuban Sandwiches for dinner several weeks ago, but I kept getting sidetracked from sharing here. I've still got a few things from Central America and the Caribbean that we want to try, and it's fine with me if it takes us through the summer months to do it.
Cuban Sandwiches seemed like a fairly easy meal to get on the table on a night when there wasn't much time - but we did need to plan ahead. We made Pan Cubano (Cuban bread) but these could also be made using Italian or French bread. A good Cuban Sandwich also uses leftover roast pork, so I planned it for a couple nights after having a roast pork tenderloin. I found the instructions for the bread and the sandwiches at Global Table Adventure.
I found out that baking Cuban bread is a two-day process, because I needed to make a starter and let it sit overnight before mixing the rest of the bread dough ingredients and baking.
|Pan Cubano starter|
For the starter, combine 1/2 teaspoon yeast, 1/4 cup cool water, and 1/4 cup flour in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a cool spot for 12 hours. I left ours on the counter overnight.
The next day, mix 1 cup cool water, 1-1/2 teaspoons each of salt and sugar, 1 tablespoon of lard or shortening, 1-1/2 teaspoons yeast, and the starter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 3-1/2 cups flour and mix for 10 minutes at medium speed. If the dough isn't coming cleanly away from the sides of the bowl, you can add a little more flour. Let rise until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch it down and let it rise again until doubled, about one more hour. (cover with a tea towel so it doesn't dry out) Cut the dough into two or three evenly sized pieces. Take each piece and pat it flat, fold in half lengthwise, and roll into a long tube. Preheat the oven to 400*F. Instead of scoring the bread, Cubans press a piece of palm plant into the dough, but you can use a metal skewer instead. Press the skewer into the dough, flip it over and let it rest about 20 minutes before baking. Bake with the skewers in place for 20 minutes for 3 loaves, or 25 minutes for two. (We cut each of our 18" loaves in half so they would all fit on my baking stone.)
With my bread baked, we could assemble the sandwiches and heat them up.
18" long Cuban bread - or Italian or French bread
slices of ham and roast pork
slices of Swiss cheese
thinly sliced pickles
Slice each loaf of bread almost in half lengthwise. Spread the bottom with yellow mustard. Add sliced ham and thin slices of roast pork, top with Swiss cheese and pickles. Put on the top piece of bread, and slice in half (or whatever will fit in your fry pan). Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, and at the same time, heat a heavy bottomed pot on another burner. This is to press the sandwiches! Put the sandwich or sandwiches in the fry pan, and press with the heated bottom of the other pot until the sandwiches are hot and golden brown, and the cheese is melted. To serve, slice on a sharp diagonal.
I'm going to guess that if you are one of those lucky cooks with a panini-maker, you could put it to very good use making Cuban sandwiches instead of using our two-pot method.
These really were a good quick meal - heartier than just grilled cheese sandwiches! I will probably make them again when I have leftover roast pork to use. But I will shortcut by using French bread. The Cuban bread wasn't hard to make, but as you can see from my picture, ours weren't as pretty as they could have been.
This post is linked at Try a New Recipe Tuesday, hosted by Lisa at Home to 4 Kiddos
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