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Its name, "media noche", means, literally, "midnight". It makes a great midnight snack, but is more often ordered at cantinas and cafeterias for breakfast, lunch or a hearty coffee-break snack. When made on plain Cuban bread, it's usually referred to as a "sandwich Cubano". A "media noche" is traditionally prepared on a slightly heavier, sweeter bread similar to Jewish chollah, which can be used as a substitute in a pinch. The real thing is liberally buttered and cooked in a special press, making a finger-licking but greasy, high-fat and high-calorie sandwich. Here's a lower-fat version with all the flavor.
Cuban bread or a substitute (Note #1)
Slice bread lengthwise, sandwich style. Spray inside surfaces lightly with cooking spray. Cover bottom surface with cheese. Layer on sliced pork and sliced ham. Add mustard, pickle slices and onions to taste. Cover with more cheese and replace top. Spray outsides of the sandwich generously, both bottom and top, with cooking spray.
This sandwich must be pressed. If you have a waffle iron, the plates often can be turned over to make a flat sandwich grill. If not, cook on a griddle, topped with a cast iron skillet or bacon press. Turn over a couple of times so it heats through without scorching. Push down on the press arrangement from time to time; the sandwich should end up about half its original thickness. Cook until lightly browned and cheese is completely melted inside the sandwich. Yum!
Note # 1: If no Cuban bread, either regular or sweet individual loaves, is available, try Italian or French bread or Jewish chollah.
Note #2: In a pinch you can use only pork or only ham, but trust me, it loses something. Cooked bacon can also be substituted for ham; while not traditional, it works.
Note #3: Any mild cheese with the consistency of Swiss can be substituted, for instance, mozzarella, Gouda or Muenster.
Note #4: The best way to fix these onions is to slice them thinly a few hours or the night before. Add a little vinegar, a dash of salt and shake of black pepper, and a glug of olive oil. Cover, shake to coat and refrigerate until ready to use.