Maybe you’ve had this warm and salty sandwich at a Cuban restaurant or your favorite deli; it’s a classic version of a ham and cheese. The combination of marinated pork, mustard, and pickles immediately snaps you back to Miami, Tampa, or wherever you had your first cubano. While technically a Cuban sandwich must be made on Cuban bread—pillowy-soft, made with a bit of lard or shortening, and long like a baguette—it’s not sold in every supermarket. A soft sandwich roll (never a crusty baguette!) works just fine as a substitute. All cubanos need roast pork: You could go for slow-roasted pork shoulder, or take a time-sensitive shortcut and opt for tenderloin, which roasts in under half an hour. The marinade has plenty of citrus and garlic that gets into the tenderloin, packing it with flavor. In fact, as you slice the pork, you’ll realize it’s a stand-alone protein for future dinners. You can marinate the tenderloin up to 24 hours ahead, and while it’s roasting, get the rest of your sandwich components ready.
If you have an electric sandwich press, this is absolutely the time to use it. But if not, no need to worry. A skillet and something to apply pressure on top of the sandwich, like a small pot lid or a small cast-iron skillet, will give the same effect. A classic cut on the diagonal, and you’ve got a sandwich that will definitely make somebody’s day. —Olivia Mack McCool
- Prep time 2 hours 15 minutes
- Cook time 35 minutes
- makes 4 sandwiches
- Pork tenderloin and marinade:
(1-pound) boneless pork tenderloin
Juice and zest of 1 orange (about 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup juice and 2 to 3 tablespoons zest)
Juice and zest of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons juice and 2 teaspoons zest)
garlic cloves, smashed
- Sandwich assembly:
Cuban bread, sliced into quarters and halved lengthwise, or 4 soft hero rolls, halved lengthwise
(heaped) yellow mustard
(about 8 slices) Swiss cheese
smoked deli ham
dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise
unsalted butter, divided
- Dry the pork tenderloin well with a paper towel. Combine the remaining marinade ingredients in a bowl or resealable plastic bag. Add the pork, tossing to coat, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24.
- Heat the oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with foil. Remove the pork from the marinade and place on the lined sheet pan. Transfer to the oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping halfway through, until its internal temperature registers 140°F when checked with a meat thermometer at the thickest part. Discard the remaining marinade.
- Remove the pork from the oven and transfer to a cutting board to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing thinly against the grain.
- Meanwhile, spread a thin layer of mayo on one side of each roll, dividing it equally (about 1 tablespoon per sandwich). Repeat with the mustard on the other side of each roll (about 1 tablespoon per sandwich). Layer equal amounts of the cheese, ham, pickles, and sliced pork on one side of each roll, then top with the other side of the roll. Press down on each sandwich.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat (or turn on a panini press, if you have one). Grease the skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter per sandwich, depending on how many sandwiches your pan can fit. Add the sandwich(es) to the pan and cook for 2 to 4 minutes on each side (or 2 to 4 minutes total if using a panini press). As the sandwiches cook, use a pan lid or a small skillet to press them down (or just close the panini press). The bread should be golden and the cheese slightly melted. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches and serve immediately.