Written by: Shawna Wiggs, TAMPA Magazine Group Publisher
Growing up in Lakeland, my family would often take trips over to the Seabreeze 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 home 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I had the perfect Tampa plate to display the sandwiches, a gift from a friend purchased at the Junior League Holiday Gift Market.
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
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