Use Black Forest Ham For Extra Flavor In Your Cuban Sandwich

Tired of eating the same old packed lunch day in and day out? The next time you're craving a meaty, cheesy sandwich, why not try whipping up a Cubano? Certainly a step up from your typical deli meat sandwich, the classic Cuban features layers of roast pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, crisp pickles, and zesty mustard, all packed between two halves of fluffy Cuban bread. It's then pressed and grilled to ooey-gooey perfection.

Even in its most basic form, the sandwich is not lacking in flavor. However, you can take its taste up a notch with just the simplest ingredient swap. Although it does require some staple components to make it a true Cubano, starting with the sandwich's signature Cuban bread, its multi-layered construction allows for some versatility when it comes to its fillings, so you can easily elevate the flavor of your sandwich by switching up the type of sliced ham you use. If you're looking to add some bold flavor to your bite, we suggest opting for some sliced black forest ham.

Most authentic Cuban sandwiches employ a sweet ham to pair with seasoned pork and cheese, such as honey-glazed, sugar-cured, or marbled Serrano. But popular black forest ham has a smoky and savory flavor that makes for a robust substitute in a Cuban sandwich, pairing perfectly with the taste of the tender, slow-roasted pork, and melty Swiss cheese.

Black forest ham is packed with smoky flavor

Authentic black forest ham, which gets its moniker from the Black Forest region of Germany where it was originally produced, is made by salting and seasoning raw ham with spices including garlic, coriander, pepper, and juniper berries, then dry-curing it over a period of multiple weeks. After it has been sufficiently cured, the ham is then cold-smoked over fir or pine wood in order to infuse it with a rich, woody flavor. It's then ripened for a few weeks in cold air; while the hunk of ham develops a flavorful black crust, the marbled meat inside achieves the perfect balance between sweet, salty, and smoky.

Unless you're shopping at a specialty store here in the United States, however, it's unlikely that the black forest ham you'll find at your local deli counter is imported from Germany, as only European countries are required to sell ham from the actual Black Forest region. Nevertheless, even commercial American versions, which are often wet-brined over a shorter period of time, are made to have the distinctive smoky flavor we're after. You may also find various types of black forest deli ham here in the U.S. For a slightly sweeter version of the meat, look for an applewood smoked black forest ham, which matches its smoky taste with a subtly fruity essence. Either way, your Cubano is sure to benefit from the complex flavor of the ham, which can take your sandwich from basic to full-bodied with just a few slices.