Food & Drink

From Reubens to Cubans, make these sensational sandwiches

Stephen Mally photos/The Gazette

A Cuban sandwich features three types of pork: smoked ham, roast pork and bacon.
Stephen Mally photos/The Gazette A Cuban sandwich features three types of pork: smoked ham, roast pork and bacon.
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What’s not to love about sandwiches? These hand-held meals are so easy to prepare and easy to eat, but we tend to think we have to go out to have a specialty sandwich like Reubens or Cubans or grinders. Well, no more. I am sharing some of my recipe secrets for how to make these wonderful sandwich combinations at home.

I always think of eating and enjoying Reuben sandwiches at this time of year. Perhaps it’s because it has corned beef as one of the main ingredients, and we enjoy corned beef and cabbage as a way of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on March 17.

This sandwich originally was named for its creator, Arthur Reuben (owner of New York’s once-famous Reuben’s Delicatessen). It is made with generous layers of corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut served on rye bread.

The original version was created back in 1914. Another version of this famous sandwich was entered and won a national sandwich contest in 1956, and the rest is history. It can be served either hot or cold, but I prefer them served hot.

I really love my version of this sandwich, as I use a sweeter version of sauerkraut, known as Bavarian. You can change up this sandwich a bit based on the type of bread you use.

It’s a tradition for us each year when we attend the Iowa State Fair that my husband insists that the first thing we do is find the stand that sells grinders.

There is always a long line to get this hot and yummy sandwich wrapped in foil. For my version of this sandwich, I like to toast the hoagie rolls in the oven with a bit of olive oil on top. The filling is made by combining Des Moines’ own Graziano’s Italian sausage, ground beef and a prepared pizza sauce with a few extra seasonings thrown in. It’s topped with some mozzarella cheese and then broiled for just a minute or two to melt the cheese. You can wrap in foil like they do at the fair or just serve on a plate and enjoy.

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I had my first Cuban sandwich many years ago in Miami’s famed Cuban neighborhood known as Little Havana.

It was at the culinary landmark known as the Versailles restaurant, dubbed “The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant.” And then later I had the opportunity to enjoy a Cuban sandwich in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa, Fla. Both cities like to take claim to developing and perfecting this sandwich.

I absolutely love the combination of the three types of pork used in this sandwich — smoked ham, roast pork and bacon.

The Tampa variety includes salami, too. Of course, the Cuban spread, cheese, pickle and type of bread matters, too. Your favorite deli will be able to provide nearly everything you need for this sandwich. Although, you may need to ask for the roast pork, as they don’t always have it in the deli case. You’ll need to make the sauce, but it’s quick and easy and uses common ingredients. Cuban sandwiches usually are made on a panini grill, pressed down to flatten. If you don’t have a panini grill, use one of the other methods I have provided.

So make your favorite sandwich at home — whether it’s a Reuben, a Cuban or a grinder, you’re sure to enjoy the ease of preparation and the great taste.

The Grinder — Iowa State Fair Favorite

Makes 8 servings. 

  • 1 pound lean Italian sausage (Graziano brand recommended, available at the Lindale Hy-Vee store)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
  • 1 jar (14 ounces) pizza sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 hoagie rolls
  • 8 teaspoons extra-light olive oil
  • 8 slices Mozzarella cheese or 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Brown sausage and beef together with salt and pepper in large skillet over medium heat, breaking up meat as you stir. Drain off fat, if desired. Add pizza sauce, water and red pepper flakes. Cook and stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 30 minutes to blend flavors. Meanwhile, brush olive oil on inside of each roll; place under a broiler for about 4 minutes or until golden brown.

Divide sausage mixture onto broiled hoagie rolls. Top with cheese; place under the broiler for about 1 minute or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Source: Nina Swan-Kohler

Reuben Sandwiches

Makes 4 servings.

  • 8 slices rye, marble rye or pumpernickel bread
  • 8 teaspoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 pound corned beef or pastrami (available at the deli)
  • 4 to 8 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 can (20 ounces) Bavarian (sweet) sauerkraut
  • 1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing

Butter 1 side of each bread slice; set aside. Place corned beef on microwave-safe plate.

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Microwave on high for 1 minute or until heated through. Meanwhile, in large skillet over medium heat, place two slices of bread, butter side down. Top with 1 slice of cheese, and 1/4 of the corned beef, sauerkraut and dressing. Cover with 1 slice of bread, butter side up. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until bread is crispy and cheese is melted. Repeat for remaining two sandwiches. Serve immediately.

Source: Nina Swan-Kohler

Cuban Sandwiches

Makes 4 servings.

Cuban Spread:

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice, fresh
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

Sandwiches: 

  • 4 crusty bread/rolls, halved lengthwise
  • 8 thin slices smoked ham (about 1/2 pound, available at the deli)
  • 8 thin slices roast pork (about 1/2 pound, available at the deli)
  • 4 to 8 strips thick-sliced bacon, cooked (about 1/2 pound)
  • 4 to 8 slices white cheddar or Swiss cheese
  • 4 large sandwich dill pickle slices
  • 4 to 8 teaspoons butter, room temperature

In a small bowl, combine mustard, mayonnaise, lime juice and cumin; spread on both sides of rolls (cut side). Layer 2 pieces each of roast pork, smoked ham, peppered bacon; and 1 slice cheese on roll bottoms. Top with pickle slices. Place top roll over pickle slice. Spread 1 teaspoon butter on both the bottom and the top (outer side) of each sandwich to prepare for grilling. Heat per below. 

Panini Grill Instructions: Heat Panini grill to 400 degrees. Place sandwiches on Panini grill for about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Stovetop Instructions: Heat heavy skillet on medium-high heat. Place sandwiches in skillet. Lay another heavy skillet (smaller than the original skillet) over top sandwiches to press the sandwich down. Cook for about 3 minutes per side or until cheese is melted.

Oven Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sandwiches on a baking sheet. Place another baking sheet on top of the sandwiches. Place a cast iron skillet on top of the baking sheet to press down the sandwich. Keep the weight distributed evenly. Bake 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Source: Nina Swan-Kohler

 

Nina Swan-Kohler is a home economist, culinary professional, recipe developer, cookbook author and cooking school director/instructor. She teaches cooking classes in her Robins home. To get a copy of Nina’s cooking class schedule or for more information, email nina@cookingwithnina.net or visit www.cookingwithnina.net

 

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