It’s cold in New England. I moved here four months ago and now I’m feeling the chill in the air. Naturally when the weather starts to cool down, I want to warm up. The Floridian in me can barely tolerate anything below 65. I am dressing in layers, the temperature in my home is just as hot as a summer day in Miami and I’m eating Cuban mac and cheese. Cuban sandwich mac and cheese to be exact.
Lately I’ve been making a lot of soups and stews. On this particular day, I really wanted pasta. As I was opening and closing my refrigerator to figure out what to make, I noticed I had everything to make a Cuban sandwich. And so the Cuban sandwich mac and cheese was born.
The cheese sauce itself tastes just like the sandwich. If you want to skip the pasta, use the sauce as a fondue. Serve it with some cut-up bread, chunky pickles, and leftover ham.
The cheese sauce itself tastes just like the sandwich.
Cuban Sandwich Mac & Cheese
1 pound uncooked elbow, penne, or any tube-like pasta
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon pickle juice
4 cups shredded Swiss cheese (¼ cup reserved for topping)
½ cup ham (I used a small ham steak) cubed
½ cup roast pork (leftover pork loin, cut into small pieces)
Salt and Pepper
1 cup day-old Italian or Cuban bread, cut into small squares
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup diced dill pickle
¼ cup shredded Swiss cheese
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Cook pasta to package directions until almost done. Drain, transfer to large bowl and set aside.
Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Place bread and olive oil on baking sheet. Toss the bread and olive oil together, covering each bread cube. Next, bake in oven for 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
Meanwhile, In a medium sauce pan on medium heat, melt butter and whisk in flour, constantly stirring. Do not let the mixture turn brown.
Add milk gradually and keep stirring until everything is incorporated. Make sure there are no lumps. Add yellow mustard, pickle juice, and Swiss cheese (excluding ¼ cup). Keep stirring until the cheese has completely melted (3 to 4 minutes).
Stir about half of sauce into pasta. Add ham, roast pork, pickles, and remaining cheese sauce and mix again.
Place mixture in baking dish. Scatter toasted bread pieces, remaining cheese, and diced pickles. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.