April 5, 2012

cuban panini

I never knew I liked pickles until I had a life changing experience at a local restaurant here in Delaware that makes their own. Michael and I had lunch there one day and there was this fresh, crisp pickle on my plate. I took a bite and the crunch was out of control. The flavors were so bright with that vinegar bite.

I can't say that I'm now a pickle fanatic... but I did buy the first jar of pickles I've ever bought last week, to make this sandwich.

I know this isn't a super traditional Cuban sandwich made with real Cuban bread. But you can get that same crusty, hard exterior by grilling the bread and making a panini.

Roasted pork tenderloin is the star of this sandwich. I just used a Smithfield pre-marinated 1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin to make my life easy. You could also season your own pork tenderloin and roast it that way.

Slicing the pork in thin slices keeps it from being too tough and chewy. You want it to be moist and tender for this sandwich.

The roasted pork is layered with sliced deli ham, cheese, pickles and a mustard/mayo mixture. I pressed it on my panini grill to get that melty, crunchy goodness. Hello, lovely.

The roasted pork is so flavorful, and mixed with smoked ham and the crunchy pickle... it's such a great combination of textures and flavors.

Cuban sandwiches are a favorite of mine, so this panini is a big winner in my book. It saved me from a week-long chicken extravaganza. Embrace your inner pork and make this sandwich.


Cuban Panini

Makes 4 sandwiches

1 1/2 pound pre-marinated Peppercorn Garlic pork tenderloin (I used Smithfield)
1/2 pound sliced smoked ham
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 "stackers" style pickles (I used Vlasic)
4 tablespoons honey mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
8 slices sourdough bread
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an uncovered, shallow pan (I used a 13x9) with cooking spray. Place tenderloin in pan and bake for 20 minutes per pound or until meat thermometer reads 145-150 degrees internal temperature. Let rest for 10 minutes before making small, 1/4 inch slices.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together mustard and mayonnaise to make the sauce. Set aside. 

To assemble the sandwiches, layer even amounts of pork, ham, cheese and pickles on 4 slices of the bread. You may not use all the pork, so just put the extra slices in a container and refrigerate for another time. On the other 4 slices, spread your mustard/mayo sauce. Place the sandwiches on a panini press coated with cooking spray, or grill them in a frying pan on the stovetop. Be sure to press down a bit so everything melts together. Serve immediately.


  1. Could I use lettuce as a replacement for the bread?

  2. That's funny! I just made Cuban paninis today as well! I love the crusty bread and all the other flavors going on. It's my all time favorite sandwich!

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