Did you think Chef Jami was going to leave you hanging after Thanksgiving? Not. A. Chance.
elena ruz sandwich
Thanksgiving leftovers? Make an Elena Ruz sandwich. Photo: Jami Erriquez

This sandwich was first served at El Carmelo restaurant in Havana. A Cuban socialite Elena Ruz requested a turkey sandwich with an unusual combination of ingredients. The sandwich consists of sweet brioch-like bread (medianoche bread) with hand-cut slices of roasted turkey, strawberry preserves, and cream cheese. The sandwich was brushed with salted butter and pressed. Ensuring each bite will have richness, sweetness, and a bit of salty. 

Today, the Elena Ruz sandwich can be found in Miami and Havana. In some homes, like mine, we ate the sandwich the day after Thanksgiving. However, my mother created her own twist on this beloved sandwich. By adding bacon, swapping out Strawberry preserves for Blueberry preserves, and adding ground ginger to the softened cream cheese. If she did not have ground ginger she’d add ground cinnamon. 

Elenz Ruz Sandwich Ingredients

(Makes 1 sandwich)

  • 1 sweet bread sub roll (medianoche bread or King’s Hawaiian sub rolls) split in half
  • 2 Tablespoons softened cream cheese 
  • 2 ¼ inch slices of roasted turkey breast
  • 2 strips of cooked bacon
  • 1 tablespoon blueberry preserves
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon salted butter, room temperature

Related Post: That One Time I Got to Make Puerto Sagua’s Cuban Sandwich

Elena Ruz Sandwich Preparation

  • In a small mixing bowl combine softened cream cheese and ground ginger. Season with Kosher Salt and Pepper. Mix well and set aside. 
  • Preheat the panini press. If using. 
  • Assemble the sandwich by spreading cream cheese and blueberry preserves on both sides add turkey slices and bacon. Close sandwich. 
  • Heat a 9-inch skillet on medium heat. About 3 minutes. Brush both the top and bottom of the sandwich. Place gently into the skillet (the sandwich likes to come apart at times). 
  • Toast until lightly golden brown for 2 minutes. Gently flip onto the other side for another two minutes. 
  • The sandwich should be slightly gooey from the cream cheese and preserves. 
  • Cut on a diagonal and enjoy with chips and a soda.
My mom’s take on the Elena Ruz sandwich. Photo: Jami Erriquez

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Jami Erriquez is a part-time chef, food stylist, and an avid cookbook collector from South Florida. She studied culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta, Georgia. Her love for cooking came from her father, Danny. She is a traveler, a yogi, and a beach bum, and has been eating Cuban sandwiches and listening to Celia Cruz since she was seven!. When Jami isn't in the kitchen she is binge-watching Golden Girls and hanging out with her family and pet cat, Irma.

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