Packed with 3 types of meat, cheese and pickles, these Grilled Cuban Sandwiches are a delicious way to mix up dinner on the grill!
There are many, many recipes out there with murky origins. Did Brunswick Stew originate in Virginia or Georgia? Does Key Lime Pie hail from the Florida Keys…or from New York City? Is Red Velvet Cake a Southern tradition, or was it originally created at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City? The list…and the debates…can go on and on. Let’s enter these Grilled Cuban Sandwiches into the fray.
Grilled Cuban Sandwiches clearly draw their name from the island nation located off the southern tip of Florida. But where does the recipe itself come from? Did these sandwiches originate in Cuba? The most popular argument is that Grilled Cuban Sandwiches were popular lunch options for the cigar factory workers in Ybor City, a suburb/neighborhood of Tampa. However, Miami also lays claim to the Cuban, and the history of this sandwich has started a “spirited” rivalry between these 2 cities.
Regardless of origin, one thing remains certain: Grilled Cuban Sandwiches are really, really, really ridiculously tasty. (Yes, I just borrowed that reference from Zoolander. No, I am not ashamed of it.) Have you ever made Cuban sandwiches at home? They’re not that difficult, and these sammiches are a great way to embrace summer grilling season. It’s hard to beat a good grilled sandwich!
Grilled Cuban Sandwiches
The basic ingredients of a Cuban sandwich are simple: roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles. Oh, and mustard. But, aye, there’s the rub. (Yes, I just quoted Shakepeare in the same article as Zoolander.) Should this sandwich use yellow mustard or mayonnaise? Grilled Cuban Sandwiches in Tampa may include a layer of mayo while the Miami version of this delicious sandwich features only mustard. And this isn’t just a personal preference. The use of mayonnaise in a Cuban sandwich lies at the heart of the battle between Tampa and Miami.
The choice of condiment isn’t the only point of contention, either. The biggest sticking point? Salami. A Cuban sandwich in Tampa will likely include salami while a former Miami mayor noted that salami should be reserved for pizza only. The inclusion of salami in Grilled Cuban Sandwiches is almost certainly a byproduct of the mixing of Cuban and Italian immigrants in the Tampa area.
I included salami in this version of the recipe. After all, my wife comes from a large Italian family, so the decision to add salami to a recipe is usually a no-brainer. (We celebrated Christmas this past year with a big pot of spaghetti and meatballs.) I also went off-script and used Dijon mustard instead of yellow mustard. I know ‘dem might be fightin’ words’ in some parts of the country, but I just love Dijon mustard. In fact, every time I order a burger at a restaurant, I immediately ask for a side of Dijon mustard.
No matter the historical origin or the optional ingredients, one thing remains: Grilled Cuban Sandwiches are delicious! So fire up that grill and make a batch of sandwiches this weekend. I promise there won’t be any leftovers to fight over!
Did you make these Grilled Cuban Sandwiches at home? Leave a comment, or better yet snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog). I’d love to see your version!
Grilled Cuban Sandwiches
For the Pork Marinade
- 4 boneless pork chops
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 lime zest and juice
- 1 orange zest and juice
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp dried red chili peppers
For the Sandwiches
- Cuban bread or 4 kaiser rolls
- 4 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 12 thinly sliced pieces Swiss cheese
- 8 slices deli ham
- 1 cup thinly sliced dill pickles
- 12 slices salami
For the Pork
- Trim pork chops and place on a large cutting board. Cover with plastic wrap and pound with a mallet until ½” thick. Place pork chops in a glass baking dish.
- Using a small bowl, add remaining marinade ingredients (olive oil, garlic, lime zest and lime juice, orange zest and orange juice, cumin, oregano, mustard, salt, pepper and chili pepper); stir until well combined.
- Add marinade ingredients to baking dish, turning several times until pork is well coated. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
- Remove pork chops and place on grill. Discard excess marinade.
- Grill for 3-4 minutes per side, or until pork is fully cooked.
For the Sandwiches
- Reduce grill to medium-heat.
- Split the Kaiser rolls and spread mustard on bottom of rolls.
- Layer Swiss cheese, ham, pickles, salami and pork chops. (Tip: The cheese will help secure meats together, so alternate cheese layers in between meat and pickles.) Place tops on Kaiser rolls.
- Place sandwiches on grill and cover lightly with foil. Place a heavy item (cast iron skillet or even a brick) on top of sandwiches.
- Grill for 3-4 minutes, flipping once, or until cheese has melted and bread is browned and crispy.
Looking for some more tasty sandwich recipes? Check out these other favorites, too: