The Meatwave: Barbecue & Grilling Recipes, Reviews, Tips, and Tricks

Tue Jun 21, 2011


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Remember last week when I said my two picnic shoulders, roasted into Pernil, went fast? That amazing disappearing pork had a whole lot to do with these Cubanos. Yes, the meat was excellent on its own, but there's something some so right, so exceptional with a Cubano—a pressed sandwich with ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, pickles, and yellow mustard—that makes it truly irresistible.


Let's start building the sandwich and see why its so great. It all starts with the bread. A Cuban roll is the bread of choice, which has light, airy texture with a thin, crisp crust. I consulted my local Cuban bakery on where to find these and owner informed me he was unhappy with most Cuban rolls he's had in New York, so uses a fresh Italian roll for his Cubanos instead, which creates a close approximation. Since his Cubanos are rocking, I took his advice and went the Italian bread route, purchasing the rolls from him.


So now to form the base—a double dose of pork! With ham and roasted pork bringing two times the swine, how can this not be one of the world's greatest sandwiches? I used a few slices of a standard deli ham here, then piled on the freshly cooked pernil, but Cubanos are also a great use of any leftover roasted pork you may have as well.


Then to finish it off, pickles and swiss cheese were added, followed by a generous smear of yellow mustard on the bread. I can image this would be pretty tasty now, but it's not a Cubano yet—it needs some grill time to become truly exceptional.


A sandwich press is the traditional tool used, but really, your entire grill is a sandwich press, so no need for extra equipment. To press these sandwiches, I first wrapped a brick in foil and let it sit on the grill to heat up while the fire was at its hottest. Once the brick was retaining a good amount of heat—after 10-15 minutes over a very hot fire—I place the sandwich on the grill and carefully placed the brick on top, while wearing my handy welding gloves, of course. The grill was then covered and let go until the sandwich was throughly pressed and heated through.


Off comes perfection. A sea of textures and flavors fill your mouth in every bite—sweet ham, porky pernil, the sour snap of the pickles, creamy swiss, the bite of the mustard, and the crispy crust of the bread. A true sandwich of sandwiches.



4 Cuban or Italian rolls
1/2 lb roast pork
1/2 lb sliced ham
1/3 lb sliced Swiss cheese
Dill pickle slices
Yellow mustard
Cast iron sandwich press or a brick wrapped in heavy duty foil


1. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over the charcoal grate. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place the sandwich press or brick on the grill to heat up.

2. Slice the bread in half and spread mustard on both pieces. Assemble the sandwiches by laying down a few slices of ham, then roast pork, cheese, and pickles. Put the sandwich on the grill, placing the press or brick on top. Cover and grill until the sandwich is flattened, the bread is crusty, and the cheese is slightly melted. Remove from the grill and serve.


  • 01
  • Mike says
    One more thing to my list...brilliant.
    Posted Tue, Jun 21 2011 8:49pm
  • 02
  • Josh says
    @Mike Make this a top priority! I really loved these Cubanos and want to see the meaty sandwich goodness spread.
    Posted Wed, Jun 22 2011 10:49am
  • 03
  • Lexi says
    I'm originally from Tampa, FL and cuban sandwiches are my FAVOURITE. these look like classic, delicious cubanos!
    Posted Wed, Jun 22 2011 3:58pm
  • 04
  • Chris says
    Excellent sandwich press you have there, Josh. You pick that up at Williams Sonoma? ha ha

    Fun and informative post, as always.

    I like using pulled pork (when I have it) instead of roast pork just for a special oomph.
    Posted Sun, Jun 26 2011 5:46pm
  • 05
  • Mike in NJ says
    Love the Cubanos!! (cuban by heritage ;) )
    One added bonus - for those unable to grill them, 2 hot pans (preferably cast iron) - one on top,the other on the stove/grill, works masterfully as well.

    Just be patient - you have to let the cheese melt into a puddle of delicious hot scalding fat to get the true yumminess! (and it is truly terrible to bite into a cold Cuban when a hot Cuban was only a few minutes away!!) wait... ;)
    Posted Tue, Jun 28 2011 1:07pm
  • 06
  • Ethan Danstrom says
    Man, I love these sandwiches. Anytime there is ham around the house I make a few of these, and pulled pork only elevates things more. I also go the Italian bread route, for lack of a better option.
    Posted Fri, Jul 8 2011 5:09pm
  • 07
  • Patti says
    I agreed with Mike in NJ - as a Florida girl with a lust for Cuban Sandwiches. I use my cast iron skillet, but I butter the tops of the bread, cover it with wax paper and then place the other part of the skillet on top to press. Repeat with the other side. It's only a true Cubano if it cuts up the roof of your mouth. Seriously.
    Posted Fri, Jan 6 2012 2:18pm
  • 08
  • Maria says
    Mmmmm, I loved these Cubanos and so did my husband! It's really easy to make and not something that requires hours to make but still very very good. I will for sure be making this more regularly!
    Posted Mon, Jan 16 2012 4:20pm
  • 09
  • Michele @ Fat Burning Furnace says
    This looks really good as I have not had Cubanos in a very long time! I used to eat a lot of Cuban food, but when I moved it was not readily available and I got out of the happen of eating it. Now I am going to have to make this recipe! :)
    Posted Mon, Jan 16 2012 5:17pm
  • 10
  • Burn The Fat Build The Muscle says
    truth is i never heard about this food but once i try it , it's so delicious and crunchy too.
    Posted Wed, Feb 15 2012 8:02am
  • 11
  • Alice says
    WHOA! I have got to try this and hopefully it tastes as good as your photos look! Looks easy overall though!! Actually it made me hungry!! lol
    Posted Mon, Apr 30 2012 8:56pm

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