It’s a happy time for those of us who loved the movie “Chef”: The movie is now streaming on Netflix, so you can watch it whenever you feel like soaking up some delicious Cuban food and music. And what are you going to eat while you watch “Chef”? Cubanos, or Cuban sandwiches, of course!
First things first: “Chef” (which stars Jon Favreau, who also wrote and directed the movie) tells the story of Carl Casper, a chef who loses his job after disagreeing with the owner of the restaurant about which direction the menu should take. (Chef wants groundbreaking and creative; owner wants traditional dishes that are guaranteed sellers.) Carl heads off to Miami, where he refurbishes an old food truck, transforms it into a Cuban sandwich truck, and embarks on an adventure driving back across the country with his best friend and his son, cooking food for appreciative crowds in every city. The movie also stars Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr., Dustin Hoffman, John Leguizamo, and Oliver Platt.
But the real star of the movie is the food: Throughout the movie you’ll watch Chef Casper making cubanos that are so good they make people swoon. And when you see that butter sizzle on the sandwich press and the cheese starts to melt… you’ll definitely want some too. If you want the most authentic version from the movie, see Roy Choi’s Cubano recipe. But if you don’t have time to do the whole pork shoulder marinating and roasting thing, or if you don’t happen to have sliced roast pork on hand, you can do a quickie version (purists, avert your eyes) by substituting bacon for the pork. It’s still that tasty.
Easy Cubano Sandwiches
- 4 6- inch soft baguettes
- 4 T. butter softened
- 8 slices thinly sliced ham
- 8 slices thinly sliced cooked pork - or substitute 8 strips bacon cooked
- 8 slices Swiss cheese
- 1 large pickle cut lengthwise into very thin slices
- 1 T. yellow mustard
- 1 T. mayonnaise
Slice the baguettes in half lengthwise and brush the open faces with a small amount of butter. Grill the bread, open face down, on a griddle on medium heat until just barely golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Cook the ham on the griddle until lightly brown, just about 1 minute on each side. Set aside.
Prepare the sandwiches: On the bottom slice of each baguette, layer two slices of ham, two strips of bacon, two slices of Swiss cheese, and two thin slices of pickle.
Combine the mustard and mayonnaise. Brush a thin layer of the mayo-mustard mix on the inside of the top slice of each baguette (that is, over the part that you've already lightly griddled). Place the top slice on top of each baguette to make a complete sandwich.
Brush the outside top and bottom of each baguette lightly with butter. Press in a sandwich press for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the sandwich is golden brown. (If you don't have a sandwich press, put the sandwich on a griddle and press it down with a heavy pan; then flip, cooking for about 2 minutes on each side.)
The first time we made them, our kids gobbled them up for lunch… and then asked for more. And we’re not just talking about omnivore kids here; we’re also talking about at least one somewhat picky eater who doesn’t like melted cheese or any condiments in a sandwich. He had no complaints at all as he polished off his extra-large cubano with “the works.”
Movie night tip: Cut the sandwiches into small squares or strips for bite-sized snacking.