Comida Latina, Mains, Recipes, Sandwiches

Jose Garces’ Cuban Sandwich

April 1, 2014
My first time with Jose Garces was about ten year ago, (don’t worry, not like that). The Professor and I were in Philadelphia visiting my beautiful friend Beth and she took us to Tinto, Jose Garces’ Basque wine bar. I don’t remember exactly what we ate (please forgive me it was ten years ago and there was a lot of wine involved) but I do remember it was amazing and thinking I have to go back… every time I’m in Philly.

Jose Garces' Cuban Sandwich

 But I never did make it back to Tinto because there were too many other Garces restaurants to try. A couple of years later we found ourselves in Philadelphia for Beth’s wedding. It was a jam-packed weekend but somehow between the ceremony and the reception The Professor and I manage to squeeze in Amada, Garces’ Spanish tapas restaurant. We had the most incredible house-cured meat, Spanish cheeses, a rhubarb cocktail that I’m still (unsuccessfully) trying to recreate, and a bottle of unbelievable Spanish wine, which may explain my drunken behavior at Beth and Andre’s wedding…..still sorry guys.

Jose Garces' Cuban Sandwich

When I was asked to write about Garces’ latest cookbook, The Latin Road Home, I immediately jumped at the chance. I couldn’t wait to dig in, especially since it spanned all the Latin cultures that quintessentially formed Garces’ cooking—many of which I too have visited. This book covers the culinary traditions of Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Cuba, and Spain and not only delves into the recipes but is full of the history and background of these places and how they are forever intertwined.

Jose Garces' Cuban Sandwich

In true chef style many of the recipes are far more complicated than I would ever pull off on a weekly basis, but the flavor combinations and iterations will be influencing my cooking forever. With recipes like Pozole Verde Con Congrejo {Green Hominy Soup with Crab}, Enchilado de Langosta {Lobster in Spicy Tomato Sauce}, and Higos en Almíbar de Miel {Figs in Honey Syrup with Goat Cheese} it reads like a fantasy novel.

Jose Garces' Cuban Sandwich

 When it came down to actually cooking one of the recipes I chose one of my favorite sandwiches. Like a Philly Cheesesteak or an Italian Beef a Cuban Sandwich is more than just meat stuffed between bread, it is an homage to a place and the people who live there. A Cuban is Miami and not something you just make willy-nilly at home but this version is the closest I’ve ever come outside of Florida to the real deal.

Jose Garces' Cuban Sandwich

 He calls for pork shoulder which retains it’s moisture and lusciousness even after being cured and roasted and chilled. If you can’t find a small rolled pork shoulder and you don’t have a butcher that can do that for you you can tie it up yourself after you rub it with the salt cure. Speaking of the salt cure, Garces is not afraid of flavor, that being said, it may seem like a lot of salt and in fact I was a bit skeptical, but most of it gets washed off before being roasted and this pork had so much flavor, so don’t skimp.

Jose Garces’ Cuban Sandwich

Yield: 4

This recipe was taken with permission from The Latin Road Home 


    For the Roast Pork:
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 2 pounds pork shoulder, tied in an even roll
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace (I couldn't find mace so I used ground allspice)
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika (I couldn't find smoked sweet paprika so I used just sweet paprika)
  • For the Sandwich:
  • 4 (6-inch) light, crisp-crusted bakery rolls
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 12 ounces best-quality domestic ham (unglazed), thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces Swiss or Gruyére cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 large dill pickle, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. To cure the pork, combine 2 tablespoons of the salt with the sugar and ground mustard. Rub the mixture all over the meat, cover, and set it in the refrigerator to cure for 6 hours.
  2. Place a rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 325°F.
  3. To roast the pork, rinse it under cold running water to remove the seasoning. Pat dry with paper towels. Combine the Dijon mustard, mace, black pepper, paprika, and the remaining 1 tablespoon salt. Rub the mixture all over the meat. Set pork in a roasting pan, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and cook until the internal temperature reaches 175°F, about 45 minutes (mine took more like 90 minutes). Allow the meat to cool completely before slicing.
  4. To make the sandwiches, heat a sandwich press or griddle (I made mine in a cast iron skillet) to medium-high. Split the bread lengthwise and pull it open. Spread the mustard on 1 side of each roll and layer on the roast pork, ham, cheese, and pickles.
  5. Spread the butter all over the outside of the sandwiches, and griddle until the cheese is melted and the meats are warmed throughout, 3 to 4 minutes. (Alternatively, wrap the sandwich in foil and toast in a 350°F oven for 5 to 7 minutes.) Slice each in half on the diagonal and serve.

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  • Unknown April 15, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Damn, I only wish I could have found a sandwich like this when I was in Cuba! xo – Aida

    • Kate Ramos April 16, 2014 at 2:17 am

      I think its more of a Miami sandwich than a Cuban sandwich. Can’t wait to hear about your trip!