In Recipes

beauty1I spent most of last week sick in bed. I couldn’t eat much and by the time my appetite returned, I was famished.

I had to start out light and could only daydream about all the gloriously yummy food I wanted to devour – pizza, pasta, brownies, garlic bread and interestingly, Cuban sandwiches.

I had this bizarre craving for the pork on pork goodness sassed up with dill pickles and encased in crusty, buttery bread. Perhaps this craving was fever induced – I don’t know.

All I know is I wanted one. Really bad. Problem is, Phoenix is nowhere near Havana or even Miami for that matter, and Cuban sandwich offerings in these parts are few and far between.

So as I recouped I hashed out a plan to make my own version of this decadently piggy sandwich, trying to make it as easy as possible because I really didn’t want to roast a pork loin and I’m a low-key kind of girl (ha ha).

I came up with this: The Messy Cubano, using ground pork instead of sliced, roasted pork. The result was a delicious hybrid of a traditional Cuban sandwich (inclusive of the pork, ham, mustard and pickles) and a loose meat sandwich or a sloppy joe.

So good. So easy. So satisfying. Tony Montana would approve. Check it out.

1The makings of a Messy Cubano: Ground pork, ham steak, pickles, Swiss cheese, crusty rolls, spicy brown mustard and mayo.

2Start off with a thickly sliced ham steak. You will want to give it a good sear in a screaming hot pan. Get a nice crust on both sides of that bad boy for awesome flavor. Then remove it from the pan and set aside.

3In the same pan break up and brown the pork. Be sure to cook it all the way through.

5While the ground pork cooks, dice up the ham into small cubes.

7Add the ham cubes to the cooked ground pork and mix it all up. Turn off the heat and set aside until ready to assemble the sandwiches.

4Cut up some pickles for the sauce. You will need about a third of a cup.

Pssst…you can simplify this step by using dill pickle relish.

6Mix the diced pickles with 1/3 cup mayo and 1/3 cup spicy brown mustard. Set aside until ready to assemble sandwiches.

8Split and butter your buns. Put under a broiler for about 45 seconds. DO NOT LET THEM BURN! If they burn you will be very, very sad. Remove the unburned, nicely browned buns from the broiler.  Then add a slice of Swiss cheese to the bottom bun only.

9Pile on the double pork mixture.

10Top the pork pile with another slice of Swiss cheese. The cheese will help hold in all that porky pleasure.

11Put the sandwiches back under the broiler for another minute. Do not leave them. Do not turn your back. Again, avoid sadness by not allowing them to burn.

13Remove from the broiler when the Swiss melts over the pork pile, encasing it in a cheesy cloak.

14Plop a nice big dollop of the pickle mayo mustard sauce on the top bun and crown it over the cheese encased pork-piled bottom bun.

15Say hello to my little friend! Serve this messy Cuban monster with a side of plantain chips and a couple dill spears.

beauty2Say goodbye to my little friend!

The Messy Cubano

Serves: 6


  • 1 Pound Ground Pork
  • 1 Pound Sliced Ham, about 1/2″ thick
  • 12 Slices Swiss Cheese
  • 6 Crusty Rolls, focaccia, kaiser, ciabatta would all work
  • 4 Pickle Spears or 1/3 Cup Dill Pickle Relish
  • 1/3 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/3 Cup Spicy Brown Mustard
  • 3 TBS Butter


  1. Sear the ham steak in a hot pan over medium heat. It will take 1-2 minutes on each side to get a good, flavorful crust. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Using the same pan, crumble the ground pork and cook over medium heat.
  3. While pork is cooking, dice the ham into small cubes.
  4. Add the ham cubes to the ground pork and set aside until ready to make sandwiches.
  5. Chop the dill pickles into a small dice.
  6. Mix the mayo and mustard together in a small bowl.
  7. Add the pickles to the mayo/mustard mixture and mix to combine. Set aside.
  8. Spilt the rolls in half and lightly butter each half. Lay on a baking sheet.
  9. Set the broiler to low and broil the rolls for just a minute. Do not burn over over-brown. Remove from broiler.
  10. Add a slice of Swiss cheese to the bottom bun.
  11. Spoon a heaping mound of the pork/ham mixture on top of the cheese on the bottom bun.
  12. Leaving the halves apart, return the sandwiches to the broiler to melt the cheese. Be mindful not to let them burn. Once cheese is bubbly and melted remove from broiler.
  13. Spoon a generous dollop of the mayo/mustard/pickle sauce to the toasted top bun.
  14. Assemble the two halves to create your Messy Cubano!
  15. ENJOY!

 Tip: Do not use salt to season the pork. There is plenty of sodium in the cheese, ham and pickles. Simply use a little black pepper and maybe a dash of paprika for a little added flavor. 

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