My mom loved ANY reason to celebrate.
Life itself was a celebration.
Our family threw a LOT of parties. And my mom was always the first to begin organizing and planning. Between her and my godmother Laurie creative brains at work, parties and celebrations were ALWAYS special… and sometimes completely over the top!
I remember having fabulous birthday parties when I was a kid. They weren’t extravagant, and they never, broke the budget, but they were FUN. Insanely fun. We had a HUGE above ground pool in our backyard for almost 20 years. Since my birthday falls in June, most of my parties centered around that pool. My mom would plan these amazing pool parties with a mix of homemade food (and ALWAYS a homemade cake) and a purchased items like scachatta pizza from Alessi bakery, and a platter of buffalo wings from Publix.
But the one thing that stands out as my most vivid party memory was my mom’s Cubanitos.
These Cubanitos made an appearance at every shindig. My grandmother and my mom would whip a heaping tray of these delicious mini sandwiches with fresh Cuban bread (from La Segunda Central bakery, of course!), fresh roasted pork, Virginia baked ham, Swiss cheese, paper-thin Genoa salami, pickle slices and a combination of mayonnaise and yellow mustard: stirred together then slathered on both sides of the bread.
Now this post isn’t about what makes the perfect “Cuban.” We all know that this famous Florida sandwiches varies from region to region. This post is to fill you in on what makes our family parties special, and to share with you a little taste of my childhood… and my mom.
That was the thing about my mom. Celebrations fueled her never ending spirit. She was always in the mood for a party or an adventure. I can only hope that somewhere, somehow I have a piece of that spirit inside me. We all should. My mom knew how to love life, and live it passionately. Isn’t that the ONLY way we should experience life?
This weekend we celebrated my baby brother’s 27th birthday. And of course, mom’s Cubanitos made an appearance.
Even though my mom isn’t with us anymore, making these Cubanitos for family get-togethers and parties makes me feel like a little part of her is celebrating along with us. And now, I want to share this little piece of my mom with YOU!
These party Cubanitos are easy to whip up, crowd-pleasing, and can be made ahead of time. You can buy all of the ingredients at any supermarket- but if you want to make them extra delicious, you must take the extra step and purchase a loaf of real Cuban bread. To make it even MORE amazing, use freshly roasted pork. You can roast a pork loin or butt yourself, using a bottle of store bough sour orange marinade, or hit up your local Cuban or Spanish restaurant and purchase a pound of roast pork. If you’re in Tampa, most Publix supermarkets offer delicious roast pork in their hot foods section.
- 2 loaves of Cuban bread (if you can't find Cuban bread, use a French or Italian loaf)
- 1lb roast pork (with mojo)
- 1lb thinly sliced Virginia baked ham
- 1/2lb thinly sliced Genoa salami
- 1/2lb thinly sliced Swiss cheese
- 1/2 cup yellow mustard
- 3/4 cup mayo
- 24 sliced pickles
- In a bowl, mix mustard and mayo until well combined. Set aside.
- Using a serrated knife, slice each loaf of Cuban bread in half lengthwise.
- Use an offset spatula or butter knife to coat each side of the loaf with a thin layer of the mustard/mayo mixture.
- Layer the sandwich filling in the following order all the way down the bottom of each loaf: 2 slices of folded ham, 1 slice of folded Genoa salami, the shredded roast pork, 1 slice of folded cheese, 1 pickle. Then, take the top of the loaf and placed it on top of the filling.
- Use toothpicks to secure the top of the loaf, and as a guide for how large you want to slice your Cubanitos. I typically space them out so that I get 12 per loaf- including "the pico (point)"- my mom's favorite part!
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.