The “Vermonter Cubano”

Ham & Cheese Cubano Sandwich

My favorite food is sandwiches. Obviously, the invention of meat between two slices of bread is one of the pinnacles of human achievement, and my favorite sandwich is the classic Cubano: ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard, on a Cuban bread roll.

That’s pretty hard to beat, but let’s face it…a nice slice of maple-glazed ham topped with a top-notch sharp cheddar is a bell-ringer, as well, right?

So, as a member of the Cabot Cheese Board*, I happened to have  very nice haul of their amazing Seriously Sharp Cheddar, in individual serving portions (which my 7-year-old daughter adores, btw!), and I’d just picked up some very nice ham from my local meat market. The stars had aligned.

This turned out to be one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had, hands down!

By-the-way: I named this sandwich the “Vermonter Cubano” as a nod to my friends at Cabot Creamery Cooperative. Originally, I was going to call it the “Wisconsobano”, but I just couldn’t do that to you…you’re welcome.

Chef Perry

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Chef Perry’s “Vermonter Cubano”
Serves 4
1 loaf par-baked wide baguette (fully pre-cooked won’t work)
3 Tbs butter
1 lb maple-glazed ham (see note)
1/2 pound Seriously Sharp cheddar cheese
1 red onion, peeled & thinly sliced
1 cup rice wine vinegar

Peel, halve, and thinly slice 1 red onion. Add 1 cup rice wine vinegar, and let soak 2-24 hours.

Bake the bread loaf at recommended heat, until JUST starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool a bit.

Let your meats and cheese come to room temperature (this allows the cheese to melt before the bread burns).

Preheat plancha (or panini press).

Ham & Cheese Cubano Sandwich

Cut the bread into four even sections, cut these in half, and slather both insides with butter. I love the word slather. If you can’t find the par-cooked wide baguette, you can use a firm hoagie or stadium roll.

Grill the bread, cut side down, until golden, then remove.

Ham & Cheese Cubano Sandwich

Lightly grill the ham on one side, until just marked, flip and top with cheese.

Ham & Cheese Cubano Sandwich

Starting with the bottom “bun”, load up with pickled onions, then ham (I like to brush with a little more of the maple glaze – {see below} – here) and cheese. Pile it on! Cap with the top bun.

Ham & Cheese Cubano Sandwich

Brush a little butter on the panini fry pan, and some more on the top buns. Place the sandwich on the grill and close.

If you don’t have a plancha or panini, use a heavy skillet, heated to medium high, with a foil-wrapped brick in it (be sure to use oven mitts). Place the hot brick on top of the sandwich, in the pan, to create your “press.”

Don’t be afraid to give your press a little squeeze. A traditional Cubano is pretty flat, usually compressed to about 1/3 its original thickness.

Ham & Cheese Cubano Sandwich

Grill the sandwiches for two to three minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown on both sides.

Your “Vermonter Cubano” sandwiches are done!

Ham & Cheese Cubano Sandwich

Slice the sandwiches in half diagonally and serve.

PS –  If you cant find maple-glazed ham, try this – take some slices of high-quality baked ham and brush them with a mixture of equal parts real maple syrup and hot water (pre-mixed). Coat both sides evenly and let sit, covered 20 minutes to an hour, before heating on the grill.

PPS – You don’t have to use a plancha (a flat grill press), or panini (a ridged grill press) to make this sandwich, but if you don’t you’ve really lost the essence of what makes the actual Cubano the greatest sandwich in the world. I picked this one up for about $30, and it works great. If you don’t have the hardware, a foil-wrapped brick will work in a pinch, see below.

PPPSYes, yes…I know this isn’t really a Cubano at all, so you purists can spare me the hate-mail, lol. It was, however, inspired by that greatest of all sandwiches.

*Disclaimer: while I receive products, including the cheese used in this recipe, free from this vendor. I am under no obligation, real or implied, to provide any review, positive or otherwise, in return. The opinions put forth in this post are strictly my own, and are in no way influenced by how I obtained this product.