Let’s make a Cubano Sandwich!

Well, this Cubano Sandwich Trilogy has certainly taken a long time to produce.  I shouldn’t feel too bad, though, The Godfather Trilogy took 18 years to complete.  The first two installments are considered to be 2 of the Greatest Movies ever made as documented on many lists found on the Internet (and the Internet would NEVER lie to us), however, Kirk reminded me that the third one was a piece of shit.  Let’s hope this post fairs better.

To bring this story to a close, I’m going to wind down with the bread recipe and how we put this sandwich together.  Just like any reasonably decent trilogy closer, we’re going to answer all of your questions and tie up the lose ends.

Let’s start with the sandwich rolls…

I found this roll recipe on King Arthur Flour’s website here and it really makes up a nice hoagie type roll.  This is one to keep in the sandwich making arsenal, for sure.  The picture above shows the rolls after they were shaped and left to rise.  Looking pretty good!  I shaped each roll into a small batard using this video here as a reference.  I must have watched this video 20 times.  I used to think that rolling the dough into a log shape would do the trick, but I soon found out that correct shaping creates a nice tight gluten skin which greatly improves the appearance, rise,  and texture of the bread.  It makes a world of difference.
A slash down the middle and into the oven they go!  It’ll be cubano time before you know it!
Out of the oven, nice and golden.  These will make a cozy place for the ham, pork, and swiss to live happily ever after.
Cubano Sandwich Rolls
4 Cups (17oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
4 Teaspoons sugar
2 Teaspoons salt
2 1/4 Teaspoons (one packet) active dry yeast
3 Tablespoons lard, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 Cups (10oz) warm water
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast to 1/4 cup of the water (110º) and let it bloom for about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients including the remaining 1 cup of water and stir on low speed with the paddle attachment.  Once the dough starts to come together, switch to the dough hook and mix for approximately 5-8 minutes.  The dough should be soft and supple.
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for approximately 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, use a bowl scraper and working inside the bowl, fold the top of the dough down towards the middle, then fold the bottom of the dough up towards the middle.  Next fold each of the sides toward the middle.  Turn the dough ball upside down in the bowl and let it rise an additional 30 minutes.
Turn the dough out and divide it into 6 equal pieces.  I like to weigh the dough on a kitchen scale, divide by six, and then weigh out six pieces.  This ensures my sandwich rolls will be nice and uniform.  Cover and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.  Shape the logs into batards (see video link above) about 8 inches long.  Place shaped rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover, and let rise for an hour.  While the rolls are rising preheat the oven to 375º for 30 minutes.
Slash each roll down the middle, spritz with water, and bake at 375º for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool before assembling your sandwiches.
Let’s assemble these bad boys…
 
The following is not so much a recipe as it is instructions for assembly, but you will need a few important ingredients:
Yellow Mustard
Thin-sliced Deli Ham
Swiss Cheese
Sliced Dill Pickles
And last, but not least, those fresh baked rolls you worked so hard on.
Begin with plain yellow mustard on each side of the rolls to get the party started.  Next, add two slices of thin-sliced deli ham on the bottom half of each sandwich.  Top with some of that mouth-watering citrus infused shredded pork.  And finally, lay a couple of slices of swiss cheese on the very top.  I sliced this cheese from a block of cheese and in the next photo you’ll see I got a little crazy and cut it way too thick.  Packaged sliced swiss is the better option.  Oh yeah, least I forget, a few sliced dills finish off this mountain of happiness.  I pickled these myself and was happy to crack open a jar for these sandwiches.
They look pretty good as is, but think about how crispy and melty they’re going to get after we press them.
We decide to press these outside on our Disc-It using our flat disc.  We brushed down the surface generously with melted butter and did the same to the tops of the sandwiches.  Sounds excessive, but the melted butter adds so much flavor, it would be a crime to skip it and this girl is not one to break the law.
A hot cast iron griddle and two foil wrapped bricks provides the perfect weights to give these sandwiches a good squeeze.  Think thin, you two!
No words needed.  I think you can form your own opinion from this pic.
Cut on the diagonal to expose a cross view of those tasty meats and cheese.  If only I had sliced that swiss thinner, these would have exceeded perfection.  Next time, no doubt.  Serve alongside twice fried plantains and you’ve got yourself a comforting platter of Cuban flavors guaranteed to kick hunger to the curb.
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