Cheeseburger in Paradise El Cubano Sandwich copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur
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Cheeseburger in Paradise El Cubano Sandwich

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Menu Description: “Ham, salami, pork, Swiss cheese, mayo, mustard and pickles, pressed until golden brown.”

This chain of island-themed restaurants features a delicious Cuban sandwich as one of the menu’s specialty items. A variety of meats are stacked on a crusty sandwich roll along with some pickles, then the sandwich is pressed until warm and flattened on a plancha grill. While there are many different ways to build a Cuban sandwich, the traditional recipe does not include mayonnaise, tomatoes, lettuce or onions. Cheeseburger in Paradise breaks tradition a bit by spreading some mayonnaise on the bread, but that’s okay, because otherwise this recipe stays true to the classic formula. Marinated pork is the superstar in this sandwich, so we must make that from scratch using juices plus lots of garlic, onion and oregano. We’ll marinate the pork for a couple hours just as the restaurant does, then bake it in a slow oven. When the pork is ready and sliced you stack it on the sandwich with other sliced deli meats, some Swiss cheese and pickles, and then it’s ready to be browned. I don’t expect you’ll have a plancha grill handy, but you can use a hot skillet with another very heavy pan, such as a cast iron skillet, to press down on top of the sandwich. I also like to put a brick in the skillet on top to help flatten the sandwich even more. For a true Cuban experience serve these along with a pitcher of mojitos and have everyone do their best Ricky Ricardo impression. 

Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 20 cloves garlic, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3- to 4-pound pork shoulder
  • 4 crusty 8-inch sandwich rolls
  • 8 ounces sliced Swiss cheese
  • 8 ounces sliced salami
  • 8 ounces sliced ham
  • Salt
  • 8 long dill pickle slices (sliced lengthwise, such a s Vlasic Stackers)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Spicy brown mustard
  • Do This
    • Restaurant/Brand
      Cheesburger In Paradise
    • Instructions

      1. Combine the oil with the onion, garlic, oregano, and peppercorns in a medium saucepan and place it over medium heat. When the oil begins to bubble, cook for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat.

      2. Combine the orange juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, lime juice, and salt in a large bowl. Pour the oil mixture into the juice mixture and stir until the salt has dissolved. Pour this marinade over the pork shoulder in a large storage container or zip-top bag. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Flip the pork over in the marinade after about one hour.

      3. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

      4. Place the pork in a roasting pan. Pour 2 cups of the marinade over the roast and bake the pork for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the internal temperature is 170 degrees F.

      5. Allow the pork to sit for 20 minutes after it comes out of the oven, then thinly slice it.

      6. When you are ready to build your sandwiches, preheat a large skillet over medium/low heat. You will also need a large heavy skillet, such as a cast-iron skillet to place on top of the sandwiches while they are browning. You can also use a panini press, but I found a heavy skillet will make the sandwich flatter (more like a plancha press) and a real Cuban sandwich doesn't have lines in it.

      7. Build each sandwich by placing 2 ounces of Swiss cheese on the bottom of the sandwich roll. Slice the cheese to fit on the bread.

      8. Pile 2 ounces of salami on the cheese followed by 2 ounces of ham. Fold the meats to fit on the sandwich. If you sliced meats are cold, heat them for 20 to 30 seconds in your microwave oven until warm.

      9. Place 3 to 4 ounces of the sliced pork on the ham.

      10. Lay two pickle slices on the pork. Use a spatula or a butter knife to spread mayonnaise on the top half of the sandwich roll, then spread an equal amount of brown mustard over the mayo.

      11. Place the sandwich in the hot skillet and press a heavy skillet on top of the sandwich. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the bread has browned, then flip the sandwich over and brown the top. You can also use a panini press for this step.

      12. Slice the warm sandwich through the middle at a slight angle and serve.

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I'm Todd Wilbur,
Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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