​Recipe: The original Cuban Sandwich

Columbia Restaurant

A Tampa treasure! The "Mixto," as it was known in the beginning, was created in the 1890s for the cigar workers as they walked to and from work.

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Columbia Restaurant

The sandwiches underwent changes as immigrants from different countries came to Ybor City. The City of Tampa was like the sandwich, a mixture of cultures and food. The Spanish brought the fine ham; Sicilians, the Genoa salami; Cubans, the mojo-marinated roast pork; and the Germans and Jews brought Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard.

Today we are using the original 1915 recipe of our founder, Casimiro Hernandez, Sr.

The sandwich should not be overstuffed with ham, but carefully proportioned. Pressing the sandwich toasts the bread, melts the cheese, and renders the juices of the ingredients. Some prefer a "smashed Cuban," which is pressed heavily for a long time.

Important notes: No mayo. No lettuce or tomato. No turkey. Good bread is essential, and La Segunda Central Bakery in Ybor City has supplied the Columbia for much of its history.

Also: See our recipes below for Glazed Ham and Roast Cuban Pork.


The original Cuban Sandwich
Serves 1

Ingredients:
9" piece of Cuban bread
4 ounces smoked ham, thinly-sliced
1 ½ ounces pork loin, thinly-sliced
1 ounce Genoa salami (peppercorn-studded preferred), thinly-sliced
1 ounce Swiss cheese, thinly-sliced
2 pickle chips
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
Soft butter

Preparation:

Cut Cuban bread in half lengthwise. Layer sliced meats and cheese in the following order: ham, pork, salami and then cheese. Place pickle chips evenly on top.

Spread mustard on top half of bread. Lightly butter both top and bottom of sandwich. Heat sandwich in press until crisp. Cut diagonally from corner to corner.


Glazed Ham

Ingredients:

1 fully-cooked boneless pit ham (about 6 lbs.)
1/2 cup Granulated sugar
1/2 cup Light brown sugar

Preparation:

Preheat over at 400 degrees.

Score ham in a criss-cross fashion 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart. Place on a roasting pan.

Mix together the granulated and brown sugars. Rub ½ cup of the sugar mixture all over ham. Roast in an oven for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven.

Remove ham from pan and place on another (no need to change pans if fallen sugar is not burnt). Carefully rub ham with the rest of the sugar mixture. Roast in oven for additional 20 minutes or until sugar has caramelized. Cool before slicing.


Roast Cuban Pork

Ingredients:
1 Fresh Pork shoulder (about 5 lbs.)
1 cup Sour Orange Juice (if not available, ½ cup lime juice and ½ cup orange juice)
8 Large garlic cloves
2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
4 bay leaves

Preparation:

With a sharp knife, puncture pork in several places. Place in a shallow roasting pan.

In a food processor, puree ¼ cup of sour orange juice, garlic cloves, oregano, black pepper and salt; puree long enough to form a paste. Rub paste all over pork, pushing mixture into punctured holes. Add bay leaves to the rest of the sour orange juice and pour over pork.

Refrigerate and marinate for 3 to 6 hours.

Roast at 350 degrees skin side up and uncovered until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees (allow 20 minutes per pound and baste occasionally). Cool before slicing.


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