Maria’s Roasted Pork, Cabbage,
and Garlic Butter Sandwich

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Once, a very long time ago, I was in Puerto Rico with my brother-in-law, who lived there at the time and spoke fluent Spanish. He took us for lunch at this very casual restaurant on a side street in Old San Juan. He said we had to have Cubano sandwiches, but I told him I don’t like Swiss cheese and asked if he could order a substitute. I proceeded to have the most delicious, yummiful, and tasty sandwich that I can ever remember. This was so long ago that Cubanos didn’t even make it on to menus in the states until much later, and then when I read what was in them, I thought, that doesn’t sound right! MY sandwich had roasted pork, no ham, and—most important—shredded cabbage and garlic butter. It was made with a mild cheese, and it was pressed and warm (although the cabbage was still raw and fresh).

Many, many years later, thanks to a serious snowstorm on the East Coast, I was literally stuck in Puerto Rico for five days. And, you guessed it, I went in search of that sandwich. After the first day or two, the rest of my family gave up. Maya held on a few days longer, since amidst the searching there was shopping. But I couldn’t find it. I even called my brother-in-law and he couldn’t remember where it was. I ate a few Cubanos, and while they were fine, they weren’t THE SANDWICH of my dreams. The sandwich I longed for.

And so, a few weeks ago, I decided to try and re-create it. I did a Google search and did find one restaurant somewhere that serves something similar that goes by a different name, but couldn’t find it again. Therefore, I have baptized this sandwich:

Maria’s Roasted Pork, Shredded Cabbage, and Garlic Butter Sandwich


  • Roasted pork, preferably homemade and sliced thinly
  • Finely shredded white cabbage
  • Mild cheese (optional)
  • Melted butter with crushed garlic
  • 1 toasted baguette
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Toast the baguette.
  2. Coat the bread with melted butter and garlic.
  3. Layer with cheese and roast pork.
  4. Top with shredded cabbage.


If anyone knows the origin of this sandwich, or has heard of something similar, please let me know!

As Eve said, “Let’s make it again. And again…”



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2 Responses to Maria’s Roasted Pork, Cabbage,
and Garlic Butter Sandwich

  1. Donna in Delaware December 5, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Maria, I have heard of this sandwich. It was on a menu in a hotel restaurant in Europe one year when I was there. Sorry, I cannot be more of a help yet because I did not try it. Since I don’t eat pork now(in the last few years), I may know someone who may have the recipe for this sandwich. I’ll see if he knows the original recipe.

  2. Donna in Delaware December 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Maria, here is ‘a’ recipe that I was given, probably not ‘The’ recipe that you are looking for. For that, you may have to make a call or legal visit to Cuba to one of the “old” restaurants there.
    Here is the recipe:

    1 loaf Cuban bread*
    1/2 lb. smoked roast pork, thinly sliced
    1/2 lb. baked ham, thinly sliced (optional)
    8 thin dill pickles slices
    Swiss cheese, thinly sliced*
    Yellow mustard (optional)

    * Italian or French bread may be substituted.
    * Emmental Cheese or Gruyere (real Swiss cheese from
    Switzerland is best).

    The sandwich is usually grilled in a sandwich press called a plancha, but you can substitute a waffle press or panini grill. It is pressed until it is warmed in its own juices.

    Slice the bread horizontally to open it. Spread the mustard or any other spread you may want on the bread. Place the pork, ham, (if using) pickles and cheese evenly on the bread and place the top of the bread on the sandwich. Cut in half if need, and grill the sandwiches in a buttered sandwich press until flatened, the cheese has melted, and the sandwich is somewhat crisp on both sides. The sandwich can be eaten hot or cold (not grilled).

    If visiting Florida, you may want to go to The Silver Ring Cafe in Tampa, the oldest Cuban sandwich shop, or Miami’s Little Havana neighborhoods. I was there in the 90’s in a cafe with Flamenco dancing, when I learned of this sandwich. It was everywhere then, and probably still exists. Did not order it though. Good luck.

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