Customers have written begging us to provide them with a recipe for Cuban bread, so that they can replicate sandwiches they had in Miami. Well, it doesn’t take too many knocks in the head till we respond —
First, the Cuban bread. The recipe was very close to any other plain white bread formula, save for one interesting variation — the use of lard as an ingredient. Lard, hmmm… what real difference could that make? Well, we discovered that, made with lard, this bread has a distinctive “salami-like” smell and taste, which happens to pair perfectly with the fillings in a Cuban sandwich. However, fresh lard being hard to come by, butter is a fine substitute. The bread has a fairly fine-grained texture, and semi-crusty, semi-chewy crust; we think it would be suitable for any type of meat-filled sandwich.
We had some interesting reactions around the office while we were perfecting our Cuban sandwich recipe. Since we haven’t been to Miami recently, we were hoping we were on the right track, but couldn’t be sure. It was gratifying when one of the women on our accounting team gleefully grabbed a sandwich off the sample table, murmuring “Ah, a Cuban. I haven’t had one of these in ages!” Seems she’s a Miami-an, transplanted to the cold North. She says these sandwiches are very similar to what she enjoyed in Miami, though the ones in Miami were “much greasier.” So feel free to spread lots of oil or butter on both the top and bottom crusts of the bread before grilling.
Note that the recipe, as written, includes a marinade for the pork. While tasty, it’s not essential; if you have leftover roast pork, or simply want to sauté or grill pork for this recipe without the marinade, go for it.
Step-by-step photos illustrating how to make these sandwiches are available at Bakers’ Banter, our King Arthur blog.
4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) butter; or 3 tablespoons fresh lard, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water
Roast Pork and Marinade
1 1/4 pounds boneless pork: roast, ribs, chops, or pork tenderloin
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon paprika (preferably hot)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lime juice 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
sliced roast pork
1/4 to 1/3 pound thinly sliced smoked ham
3/4 pound thinly sliced Swiss cheese
dill pickles, sliced (about 11 ounces; about 1 1/2 large “pickle barrel” pickles)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) melted butter or olive oil (1 3/4 ounces)
Manual Method: In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 hour, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. Gently fold the dough in upon itself and turn it upside-down after 30 minutes; this “turn” helps eliminate some of the excess carbon dioxide and redistributes the yeast’s food, both imperative for optimum yeast growth.
Mixer Method: Combine the ingredients as directed at left, using a flat beater paddle or beaters, then switch to the dough hook(s) and knead for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise, with a turn, as directed above.
Bread Machine Method: Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your machine, program the machine for Manual or Dough, and press Start. Examine the dough about 10 minutes before the end of the final kneading cycle, and adjust its consistency with additional water or flour as needed, to produce a smooth, supple dough. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.
Divide the dough into six pieces, and shape each piece into a rough log. Let the logs rest for 15 minutes, covered, then shape each piece into a smooth batard shape (a log about 8 inches long, slightly tapered at each end). Place the loaves on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet.
Let the loaves rise, covered, for 1 hour. Brush or spray them with water, and slash one long lengthwise slit down the middle of each loaf. Preheat the oven to 375°F while the loaves are rising. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, or until it’s golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and cool it on a rack. The loaves may be made one day in advance and stored at room temperature, or several weeks in advance and frozen. Yield: 6 sandwich loaves.
Roasting The Pork: Mix all of the marinade ingredients together (all of the ingredients except the pork), and rub this mixture over all surfaces of the pork. Cover well, and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.
Place the pork in a roasting pan or ovenproof dish, and roast it in a preheated 425°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until cooked through. Remove the pork from the oven, and cool it completely before slicing thinly.
Sandwich Assembly: Slice the Cuban loaves in half horizontally. Brush the cut surfaces of the rolls with olive oil or melted butter. Layer the sandwiches as follows: Swiss cheese, sliced pickle, ham, sliced roast pork, then additional cheese.
Now comes the somewhat challenging part. You want to grill these sandwiches, top and bottom, while at the same time flattening them slightly. This helps meld all of the filling ingredients. Heat two large skillets, or a griddle, to medium, about 325°F. Lightly grease the griddle and/or skillets. Brush the bottoms of the sandwiches lightly with olive oil or melted butter. Place them in the greased pan(s). Brush the tops with oil or butter. Top them with a piece of parchment paper or foil, then a flat sheet pan, or other flat, non-meltable object—the point is to provide a flat surface for a weight. Place something heavy atop the pan—a teakettle filled with water makes a good weight, as does a clean brick wrapped in aluminum foil.
Grill the sandwiches for 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat, checking often to make sure the bottoms aren’t burning. Adjust the heat downward if the bottoms are becoming brown after only a couple of minutes. Turn the sandwiches over and grill for several more minutes, until they’re slightly crisp on both sides, and the cheese is melting. Remove from the heat, and serve warm. Yield: 6 sandwiches, 12 servings.