Simple Logic from Marta’s Cuban American Kitchen

Martas kitchen logo 1 copy-1.jpg

I’ve been really busy lately tending to my big, fat Cuban family (and complaining LOUDLY about the heat). And I confess that it’s been kind of a drain on my personal resources to cook. It’s been so stinking hot here! (there she goes, complaining again) So I’m just making sandwiches today.

So I tell my family that I’m making sandwiches for dinner and they don’t even bother to ask, “what kind?” No one has to respond to the “white, wheat, rye, or sourdough” question.

It is a matter of simple logic:

I am Cuban.
I am making sandwiches.
Therefore I am making Cuban Sandwiches.
End of discussion.

So, who’s hungry? =D


Classic Cuban Sandwich

Long loaf of bread (preferably Cuban, but French will do.)
Softened butter (to spread on the outside of the bread)
Yellow mustard
Swiss cheese
Dill pickles (Clausen Bread and Butter Sandwich Pickles make all the difference here)
Roast Pork (see this recipe)
Sliced Ham

1) Coat the bread with mustard.
2) Make the sandwich with the ingredients in this order: Swiss cheese, pickles, roast pork, and sliced ham.
3) Butter the bread on the outside
4) Grill. (You can do this in a frying pan or a Cuban sandwich press or even a George Forman)
The goal is to get the sandwich nice and toasty and melt the cheese.
You can eat it hot or cold. It’s awesome either way.

I like it with plantain chips and a Materva. =D
And I made some Dulce de Leche for dessert. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

11 thoughts on “Simple Logic from Marta’s Cuban American Kitchen”

  1. Marta, fortunately I was just eating a Cuban Sandwich from Sarussi (best cuban sandwishes in Miami) but now I feel like having a cold Materva and some dulce de leche. Will have to stop and get some on the way home or I won’t be able to sleep tonight!

  2. You’re right! It doesn’t get any better than that. I’m on my way out the door to get me one.

    You are a bad, bad girl to tease us like this.

  3. Marta: It’s refreshing to read your culinary posts. There are a lot of variations of Cuban sandwiches sold in the US (Key West, Tampa, newfangled ones in fancier restaurants, etc.), but yours sounds like the real thing of yore (not that there is anything wrong with variety). Some years ago the owner of Xiomara’s in Pasadena, California was quoted saying that the Sandwich Cubano was, according to one of her uncles, an invention created in Florida during the 60s! Needless to say my Dad had favorite Cuban sandwich places in Havana and Cienfuegos back in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. The L.A. Times Magazine article also implied that the only sandwich traditionally eaten in Cuba was ‘pan con lechon.’ I didn’t bother to write them, but went over in my mind the myriad types of sandwiches I had as a kid in Cuba, both before and after 1959: pan con tortilla (potato and onions, or ripe plantain, or ham, or sardines, etc), pan con minuta de pescado, pan con croquetas, Medianoche, Elena Ruth (from Carmelo’s in el Vedado), pan con bistec, bocaditos de pasta de jamon, bocaditos de jamon y queso, pan con enchilado de langosta, pan con timba, pan con boliche, pan con chorizo, pan con calmares fritos, galleticas preparadas, pan con tasajo, pan con bacalao, pan con bonito, and on and on. The bocaditos were made with small rolls or with English bread (sliced white bread without the crust, sold in bakeries) and the other sandwiches with flautas de agua (skinny baguettes as opposed to the fatter pan de manteca). Except for the pan con timba, you could buy all of the above either in shops or the streets of Havana. I wonder what other sandwiches were sold in the provinces, besides ‘macho con casabe’ in Oriente?

  4. mamey –
    Thanks for the mouthwatering culinary history lesson. But now I’ve got the entire “Pan con..” family dancing a conga in my head.

  5. Marta, this is a killer!!! Though I have to admit, being the daughter of a former Panaderia owner, sliced ham sucks….unless of course it’s sliced right off the leg of ham hanging from the ceiling…..

    Oh God. what to do??????

  6. Mamey, you brought back many childhood memories. My dad worked at El Carmelo and yes, he would make for us Elena Ruth’s and also Helado Tostado, another one of their specialties. And My Grandmother would make us pan con chorizo and pan con tortilla for “merienda”. How about pan con platanitos fritos????? This is still my mom’s favorite.

  7. The terminology “Cuban Sandwish” might have originated in Miami in the 1960s because we were NO LONGER in Cuba, but back in Cuba it was just called a Sandwish. Same goes for Cuban Coffee. In Cuba it was just “un café.” There was no need to “imply” that it was Cuban.

  8. Orgullosadesercubana: Yes indeed! Pan con platanitos fritos we would have for merienda or spontaneously at any time. Our mother and aunts would get us up early to go to the beach, like 6 in the morning and we would have a quick cafe con leche and pan con mantequilla and juice. We would be splashing in the waters of Santa Maria del Mar by 7–and by 10 we would be famished. Out would come the pan con tortilla (de papas) and the pan con platanitos! Que vida! My Mom was modern enough to let us go back in the water within 30 minutes. Only after a huge lunch around 12:30 did we have to wait a couple of hours…but soon it would be time for the afternoon merienda.

Comments are closed.