Cubanos: Cooking with Kids


This summer, I have finally been able to get back into the kitchen and cook with new recipes.  It’s been a long time, but with good reason!  Last year I started working at the school full time, and it has been very fulfilling.  The school schedule, along with shuttling my kids to dance rehearsals, etc., made the kitchen look more like my foe rather than friend.  Eating well had become tricky and new recipes had taken a back seat for the time being.

Just recently, my family and I watched Chef, and my daughter was inspired to cook.  Admittedly, I was too, and we promptly found ourselves at the grocery store the very next day, picking up supplies to make Cubanos.  After watching so many awwwwmazing dishes that they prepared in the movie, our mouths were watering, and we were super motivated to try that meat and cheesy loaded sandwich.  Out of all the dishes made on that movie, I figured it would be wise to try something more simple that my 11 year old could handle.  My kitchen was smiling again.  If kitchens could talk.

When we got online and pulled up their recipe used from the movie we found that we weren’t the only people that were curious about the ingredients used.  I saw many other recipes for the sandwich online, but I wanted to go straight to the source: found here.

Since I had a hungry family, I modified this recipe – and “kidified” it as well.  The idea of pickles or mustard in their sandwiches did not appeal to them. Nor did the idea of mint leaves used in the seasoning sound very good to anyone (except myself.)  So I was overruled on some things.  (I did however, put mustard on MY sandwich! How can you not?!)  Some additional tweaks that we made with this recipe was to use a pork tenderloin rather than a whole pork shoulder.

Results?  Not a bite leftover.  Oh my gosh, delightful, and everyone was satisfied with their semi-custom dressed up sandwich.  Best part for me?  I watched my daughter take over my kitchen.  For the most part.

Cubanos (adapted from Roy Choi

  • 6 oz. thinly sliced boiled ham
  • Softened butter, for brushing
  • 6 six-inch-long soft baguettes or sub/hoagie rolls, split lengthwise
  • Yellow mustard, for brushing *optional
  • ¾ lb. thinly sliced seasoned pork tenderloin (see recipe for this below), or store-bought roast pork
  • ½ lb. thinly sliced Swiss cheese
  • 3 half-sour dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise *optional

Seasoned Pork Tenderloin:

  •  extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup fresh orange juice
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. minced oregano
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Salt and Pepper
  • One Whole Pork Tenderloin


In a large Le Creuset type of dish, place oil down in pan and heat on medium. In a large baggie, place the pork with all pork recipe ingredients and shake.  If you want to let it marinade for a 1/2 hour – all the better. Place all items in the baggie (except the bag of course!) into the pan and sear the pork tenderloin on the cooktop.  Once seared, place in the oven (400 degrees) for 30-40 minutes.  While the pork is cooking, prep the sandwich rolls slicing them lenghwise in half, and heat up the panini press.  If you are like us and don’t have one, use a griddle (or a hot pan) and get out a really heavy pan to set on top of the bread to press the sandwich when it’s time.  (Is this proper technique?  No, but who’s watching??)  Daughter cooking slices

Take pork out of oven, and slice into “thin-ish” pieces.  It is tenderloin, so it won’t be perfectly thin cut.  This is ok.  Place ham slices onto hot griddle to heat.  Butter the outsides of the baguettes.  Layer meats and cheese inside the sandwich.  If you like, add mustard and pickles as well.  Place sandwiches in press and close (or place on griddle, and put a heavy pan on top to press the sandwich while cooking.  If done this way – make sure you flip the sandwich! (About 3 minutes a side.)  Serve while hot.

Stuffing sandwichesHeavy pan Panini Press


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