I first had my first one on our honeymoon in Las Vegas, at the restaurant (I don’t remember what it’s called, but its just an ordinary casino restaurant) at the Mirage Hotel. Sadly, I’ve never had a “real” on made by a Cuban in Miami or elsewhere in Florida. And I certainly have never actually had one in Cuba, as I’m pretty sure its just a Cuban-American food item.
It is basically a smashed sandwich, or a sandwich that has been grilled on between two flat irons, usually on a less than fancy panini (no grooves) press.
I have no panini press, or even a less than fancy panini press. I didn’t have any ham or swiss cheese either.
What I did have was pork carnitas, provolone, cheddar, sandwich sliced dill pickles, and Sierra Nevada Porter Mustard.
To substitute the press, I made the sandwich and pressed it down with my hands. Sure, that’s a rather crude method, and it hardly creates a smashed sandwich, but it was more of a mental thing.
“I smashed the sandwich, therefore it is a smashed sandwich.”
I suppose I could have gotten all Alton Brown on it. I could have wrapped it in foil, placed it between two cookie sheets, put a brick on top, and then put it in the oven.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any bricks handy.
I put the psuedo-smashed sandwich into a 350 degree oven, went outside and had a smoke, and then took it out of the oven.
Not exactly a Nicole, but it was still quite tasty. In fact, I could have made a Nicole, as I still have all the ingredients sitting around.
But I figured I should use the carnitas up since they were starting to turn.
So if I get some kind of food poisoning (wouldn’t be the first time), we all know what it was from.