There is a raging debate in the Florida Cuban community over who invented the Cubano sandwich- Cuban immigrants working in Tampa Bay cigar factories, or Cuban refugees in Miami. The debate is an interesting on but misses on big point, the sandwich wasn’t invented in the US but actually originated in Cuba in the late 1800s.
If you asked for a Cubano in Cuba, you’d most likely be met with blank stares. Ask for a Medianoche and you’d get the same sandwich you were looking for.
Its name means midnight in Spanish, which is traditionally when this sandwich would be served. Since Havana’s heyday in the 1920s, it’s what you’d get when leaving a nightclub or bar to soak up a night of heavy drinking.
The only difference between the two sandwiches is the bread used. The medianoche comes with the same basic fillings as a Cuban sandwich – ham, pork, mustard, pickles – but encased in an eggy, brioche-style bread that’s sweeter and fluffier than traditional Cuban bread. Other than the bread and later addition of salami to the Tampa Cubano, they are all the same. What’s not debatable is that these sandwiches, especially when pressed and toasted, are phenomenal.
Cuban American Pork Sandwich (Cubano)
- Roasting pan
- Large skillet or panini press
- Pastry brush
- Large bowl
- Instant read thermometer
- ⅔ cup Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ tbsp Orange zest, fine
- ½ cup Orange juice
- ½ cup Lime juice
- 7 cloves Garlic, minced
- ⅔ cup Cilantro, lightly chopped
- ¼ cup Mint leaves, chopped
- 1 tsp Dried oregano
- 1 tsp Ground cumin
- 1 tsp Each: salt and black pepper
- 4-6 lb Boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt)
- 2 large Loaves French bread or challah cut into three 6-inch slices each. Large sub rolls will also work.
- 12 slices Baked ham
- 12 slices Mojo pork, cut thin
- 6 slices Swiss cheese, thin
- ¼ cup Butter, melted
- 6 tbsp Yellow mustard
- 12 slices Dill pickles, long thin slices
Make Mojo Pork Roast
- Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add pork and cover with marinade. Transfer everything to a resealable plastic bag. Seal and massage marinade into the meat. Place bag in the bowl and move to the refrigerator to marinate for 12 to 24 hours.When done marinating, preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Discard marinate and tie roast into a roll using 4 pieces kitchen twine. Set pork roll fat side up on a rack set in a roasting pan. Roast in oven for 30 minutes and baste with pan juices. Reduce heat to 375°F (190°C). Roast another 90 to 120 minutes until an instant read thermometer registers 160°F (71°C). Move to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil for 30 minutes. Cut off twine. Cut 12 thin slices.
- Heat griddle, large skillet or panini press to medium. Cook ham and pork slices for 30 seconds on each side. Transfer to a plate. Generously butter inside side of bread and toast on griddle/press until lightly browned, 1-2 minutes. Transfer bread to a work surface and layer bottom of the buns with pork, ham, cheese and 2 pickles. Brush inside of top bun and close sandwiches,Generously butter outside of sandwiches, place on press and close. Cook until cheese melts and outsides are browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board.If using a griddle or large skillet instead of a press, cover cooking sandwiched with a baking sheet weighed down by cans or place another heavy skillet atop to compress sandwiches. Cook for 3 minutes, flip and cook pressed for another 3 minutes.Transfer toasted sandwiches to a cutting board, slice diagonally, and serve.