No Press? No Problem!
Published August 2017. Updated July 5, 2018.
Growing up in Lakeland, my family would often take trips over to the Seabreeze in Tampa (2111 North Blvd) for a devil crab and a Cuban sandwich.
I knew I wanted my homemade version to be as authentic as possible. After three stops for supplies, I made it back to my kitchen and started cooking. The ingredients list is simple, and it all comes together quickly. These sandwiches are perfect for a pool party or tailgate. But let’s be honest — no matter how you make it, a Cuban sandwich is always going to be pretty darn good.
1. Authentic Cuban Bread
Where do the vast majority of Tampa restaurants get their Cuban bread? La Segunda Central Bakery. So I took a trip over to Ybor City to pick up a loaf.
2. Meats and Cheese
The better the ingredients, the better the sandwich. For truly Cuban-style roasted pork, I went to La Lechonera on N. Armenia Avenue and Publix to pick up some Boar’s Head meat and Swiss cheese.
3. Time to Prep
A Tampa Cuban has no mayo, no tomato and no lettuce. The loaf of Cuban bread was so long that I gave the other half to a friend.
Layer from the bottom up with ham, roasted Cuban pork, salami with peppercorns, Swiss cheese and pickles. Smear top of bread with mustard and close. To fit it in the skillet, I cut the bread in half again.
5. Don’t Forget the Butter!
My grandmother taught me a lot of things. One of them was don’t skimp on the butter. Coat the top of the bread with a generous layer of butter and get ready to grill.
I heated a cast iron skillet over medium heat and covered the bottom with butter. I put both sandwiches in bottom-side down. After a few minutes, I checked the bread. When it looked toasty I flipped it.
7. Get Ready to Press
If you have a panini press at home, use that. I decided to try an alternate method. All you need is an extra pan and four heavy cans. You could also use a foil-wrapped brick.
9. Slice It Up
Remove your pressed sandwich and cut it into three sections. Make sure to use a knife with a serrated edge to cut through the bread without destroying your masterpiece.
10. Plate It Up
I had the perfect Tampa plate to display the sandwiches, a gift from a friend purchased at the Junior League Holiday Gift Market.
Don’t have time to roast your own pork?
Save yourself the time by letting the experts at La Lechonera do the work for you. Located in a largely Hispanic neighborhood on North Armenia, you can walk in and order a variety of already prepared, authentic Spanish foods.
5601 N. Armenia Ave.
Tampa, FL 33603
Looking for that authentic Cuban bread?
La Segunda Central Bakery in Ybor City celebrated its 100th birthday in 2015.
2512 N. 15th St.
Tampa, FL 33605
Mauricio Faedo’s Bakery is another Tampa institution, located in Seminole Heights. Folks rave about their warm Cuban loaves.
5150 N. Florida Ave.
Tampa, FL 33603