Do you have some leftover roast turkey, pork, or ham tucked in the freezer after the holiday feasts, or are you looking for a twist on a toasty sandwich you can make with deli meat? In my family we always try to “help” with the leftovers right away by having a little sandwich later that day or evening as we’re relaxing and “feeling faint” from not having eaten anything for possibly a good half hour or so. At that point we also “help” with the rolls and assemble simple sandwich snacks with them. They’re always tasty enough tidbits, but how is it that sandwiches made at a restaurant often seem much better than those made at home? Certainly sandwich-making is a rather straightforward enough process? Their secret, it seems, is the inclusion of spices and sauces as well as using a good bread or roll.
Everyone loves a good turkey or ham sandwich, but to make something a little different—and for more of a meal than a snack—try a grilled Cuban sandwich, better known simply as a Cubano. Served with a handful of chips and some slaw, macaroni salad, or a cup of soup, these comforting, hearty sandwiches will satisfy just about any appetite. The traditional Cubano is made with Cuban bread, but any soft, tasty sandwich roll will do. (This version by chef instructor and cookbook author Molly Stevens appeared in Real Food.)
Grilled Cubano Sandwich
Makes 4 sandwiches
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. paprika, regular or smoked
4 soft sandwich or hoagie rolls
6 oz. sliced roast pork or turkey
¼ lb. thinly sliced ham, preferably Black Forest
¼ lb. sliced Swiss or provolone cheese
2 medium dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise
1½ Tbsp. butter, softened
In a small bowl, stir together olive oil, mustard, cumin, paprika, and a pinch of salt. Split the rolls horizontally, and spread each side with the mustard mixture. Layer meats and cheese on bottom halves of rolls (pork or turkey first, then ham, and then cheese). Arrange pickles on cheese, and cover with top half of the rolls. Press down to compress filling.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat (or heat a panini maker or sandwich press). Spread butter on bottom of each sandwich, and place, buttered side down, in skillet. Butter top side of roll, and then cover sandwiches with a sheet of foil and set a heavy pan or pot lid on top, pressing hard to compress the sandwiches (if using a sandwich press, close the press). Grill, pressing constantly and turning once, until sandwiches are browned and crisp on both sides and cheese is melted, 10 to 12 minutes total.
Cut sandwiches in half and serve warm.