The Ultimate Sandwich Hybrid: The Tejano Cubano

Anyone who sampled an original Cuban pressed sandwich had the privilege of indulging in the savory, crisp, and zesty flavors nestled in between french style, Cuban bread.  It's another classic example of how something so simple can be so spectacular, and also how peasant-style dishes are some of the absolute best.  There's nothing like the taste of utilizing what's available and the love put into every bite. The Cuban people really have good ol' home cooking down to an amazing art.  It's not too far off from Texas country cooking (as far as the ideology).  It inspired me to put a Texas twist on this stunning sandwich, and might also give some old-fashioned cowboys an epiphany.

Cara's Tejano Cubano Pressed Sammich:

-  4 slices of French style bread (loaves larger than baguettes work nicely)
-  4 slices Swiss Cheese
-  about 6 slices of Mesquite Smoked Ham (thin, deli cut is best)
-  Dill Pickle slices
-  Spicy Brown Mustard
-  about 1 cup of Shiner Carnitas

Preheat your panini press to medium high heat.  I like to use my 5-in-1 Cuisinart Griddle.  Assemble sandwiches my spreading about 1/2 teaspoon of mustard on each slice of bread.  Place each slice of Swiss cheese over mustard and add a layer of pickles over the cheese on one side only.  Place ham over one side of sandwiches and pile a half cup of pulled pork or "Carnitas" over the ham layer for each sandwich.  Top with other side of sandwich and cook in panini press for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese melts, and bread is pressed, toasty and crunchy.  Cut on a bias with a serrated knife and serve.

If you don't have a panini press, you can always use the traditional sandwich press method.  There was a time before griddle presses, you know!  Try using a heavy skillet to cook your sandwich, and use a brick covered in foil as a weight.  No brick?  Use another heavy skillet to press your sandwich and put a couple of canned goods in the top pan as a weight.  If you're into kitchen gadgets, you can always invest in a sandwich press weight.

This handy hybrid sandwich will really hit the spot, and won't feel like a brick in your stomach like the one you used to cook it with!  It's quick, it's easy, it's exotic, and nothing short of a total flavor party.  Viva el Tejano Cubano!!

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