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The medianoche is a specific kind of Cuban sandwich designated by its small size and particular sort of sweet bread. This sandwich is made from a specific kind of Cuban bread, with different kinds of pork, as well as cheese and assorted condiments. Cuban food experts claim that it is called the medianoche, which means midnight in the Spanish language, because it is smaller and slightly sweet, thus made to be eaten in the middle of the night.
Other ingredients for the medianoche sandwich include pickles and mustard. Some cooks might also use other items like capers or flavorful onions. In some cases, the pork in the sandwich also gets a flavoring marinade that might use garlic or citrus fruit or other flavor ingredients to give the sandwich a different taste.
One of the most distinctive characteristics of the medianoche and other similar Cuban sandwiches is that these sandwiches are pressed or grilled to create a specific texture, as well as color and shape. Some have likened them to the Italian Panini or the simple American “grilled ham and cheese” sandwich. Some Cubans and other cooks who make the sandwich authentically may refer to using the plancha, which is the Spanish word for grill.
In authentic presentations of the sandwich, the cook often cuts thin slices of pork from a whole leg to fashion the deli style slices that go into the sandwich. This ingredient is key in the various types of Cuban sandwiches now popular in world cuisine, which include the medianoche as well as another Cuban sandwich called the “sandwich mixto.” One of the common ingredients in these sandwich types is a bread called pan de agua that, according to Cuban food experts, is slightly underbaked to give it a particular texture.
Many of those who are familiar with this food argue that the appeal of the medianoche is in its specific ingredients, where a relatively simple sandwich can have a unique taste appeal because of its precise construction. Swiss cheese is often recommended as the right cheese for this kind of sandwich. Experts also point out that it is essential to use a sweeter, egg based bread, which some consider similar to the Jewish Challah bread served in many bakeries around the world. Finding the right ratios of ingredients to balance the taste can also be important.