Cuban sandwiches are ubiquitous in South Florida -- here's a look at one of Miami's best takes on the iconic sandwich at Sanguich de Miami
- A traditional
Cubansandwich is made with roasted pork (lechón), ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles.
- It must be made with Cuban bread, which is different from French or Italian bread because it contains lard.
- Sanguich de Miami uses lard to coat the exterior of the bread so the
sandwichdoesn't burn when it's pressed in the plancha.
Following is a full transcript of this
- Taryn Varricchio: Garlicy lechón marinated for 24 hours paired with sweet ham brined for seven days topped with two slices of Swiss cheese and pickles for a punch of vinegar and extra crunch. All layered onto plush Cuban bread, brushed with lard and pressed until warm and crisp. It's this classic combination of flavors pressed between Cuban bread that made the Cuban sandwich a legend in Miami.
Ham and cheese is one of those classic combinations. It's straightforward, but you may see it served differently depending on where you go. Like down in Miami, where Little Havana is a haven for Cuban cuisine. And this classic marriage of meat and protein defines their go-to sandwich.
Customer: Cuban sandwiches in Miami are like pizza to New Yorkers. The Cuban sandwich is the pinnacle, and if you meet the top, then you are meeting us at Sanguich de Miami.
Rosa Romero: For Cubans, we can make anywhere, on a slow day 80 sandwiches, on a busy day 150 Cubans alone.
Taryn: At Sanguich de Miami, Daniel and Rosa spend the most time preparing the meat. To make a true Cuban sandwich, they prepare ham and roasted pork called lechón.
Rosa: Our lechón and our ham, we use the same part of the pork, which is a boneless pork butt. For us, we find that it tends to be one of the most tender parts of the pork. One gets cured and the other one gets marinated, is really the only difference between the two.
Taryn: The curing process starts like this. Each ham is wrapped and injected with a salt and water solution made with spices, like garlic, allspice, cloves, and coriander. Then it sits for seven days, building flavor by soaking up that brine. Whereas the lechón marinates for one to two days before it goes inside the oven to roast. And when it's finished...
Rosa: You end up with this beautiful crust on the outside. The gold that obviously has contributed through the roasting, with all of the sugars and the honey that's in the ham. And so it's nice and tender, it's definitely juicy, really creates a power of flavors when you pair it up particularly with the ham, which is a little bit sweeter.
Taryn: What may be as important as the meat is the loaf of bread it sits between. A Cuban sandwich simply wouldn't be the same without Cuban bread.
Rosa: Cuban bread for Cubans is what the tortilla is to Mexicans, right? What the arepa is to the Colombians or the Venezuelans, right? It's just part of our DNA.
Taryn: But what makes this bread different than, say, French or Italian bread? It's gotta have fat.
Rosa: There's a lot of people who may make Cuban bread, but they only use water. For us, it was really important to be authentic and to make sure that we didn't take the lard out of the process, 'cause it truly does make a huge difference with the Cuban bread. With flavor, texture, everything.
Taryn: And while other spots may opt for yellow mustard, Sanguich de Miami adds a drizzle of its homemade spicy mustard. And if customers catch themselves craving mayo...
Rosa: I tell them that Cubans are not made with mayonnaise, that I'll be happy to put it on the side, but that I will not be a part of ruining the Cuban sandwich with mayonnaise.
Taryn: After a drizzle of mustard comes equal parts lechón and ham, two slices of Swiss cheese, and pickles.
Customer: I love the Cuban sandwich because there's something about the mustard, the pickles, the fattiness of the pork. There's something about that combination of flavors that's really layered that hits home for me.
Daniel Figueredo: It's the way you really palatize it correctly. Most people put mustard and pickles together, and you don't do that. It's too much vinegar. It punches you in the face. It's overpowering. You need to separate them and give it a complementary meat.
Taryn: And finally, the whole sandwich heads to the plancha, where it's pressed and finished off with one more thing.
Rosa: Once it's being warmed, we glaze on lard, and the lard that we use is the same lard that's rendered from the ham and the lechón that we make.
Daniel: The lard is what really helps kind of diffuse the heat. It has a very high heat index, so it doesn't burn, like butter.
Customer: The meat's nice and tender. The bread is nice and crisp. Gives you that crunch. This is how I remember it. OK, so how do they open up a shop like this up in Wisconsin?
Taryn: More than 60% of the US's Cuban population lives in Florida, and a third of Miami-Dade County in particular, where Sanguich calls home, is made up of Cuban Americans, hence why the Cuban sandwich has become a mainstay here.
Customer: I have people all the time, everyone comes into town and that's the one question they have, "Where can I get a Cuban sandwich?"
Daniel: It's part of generations and generations and generations of
Rosa: When we migrated here, it was only natural that --
Daniel: For that to be inherited. It's part of our culture. It's part of our DNA. It's part of the fabric of our culinary landscape.
That's my Cuban.
Customer: No one's ever really elevated the sandwich. It's been like a traditional staple with, you know, store-bought ingredients, but no one's really taken it to that gourmet level of making everything from scratch, down from the pickles, to the mustard, how they brine everything. You taste it. You taste all the quality.
Rosa: I think the Cuban sandwich with time has kind of become something we put on the back burner, where it's like a really affordable fast food that you kind of just grab and go. But we wanted to take it back to the old school where people really took the time and care to create their meats and to really curate a beautiful sandwich that you can truly enjoy.
Taryn: And that sandwich they've mastered is one of the best Cubanos you'll find in Miami, with customers coming from across the world to try it.
Rosa: We've had people come in and show us --
Daniel: Like, a magazine.
Rosa: Magazines. Their magazines from Europe says that we must try this Cuban sandwich, and it's surreal. And we're humbled by the whole thing. Honestly, you know, you put something in motion, you put all of your effort and love. You feel like it's something that is going to be appreciated. And then once they try it, the gratitude and enjoyment that you see in their eyes when they're actually trying it. Honestly, it makes all of it worth it.
Customer: Everybody loves a good sando, and every culture has a sandwich. This is our sandwich and our culture in a bite, you know?
Customer: It's kind of the whole package. You get the different flavors, the different textures. I love myself a grilled cheese with an addition of meat, but this is just its own thing. It's just, it's the Cuban sandwich.
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