Medianoche is a sandwich famous for being served in Havana’s nightclubs from midnight and onwards, when party people got hungry for a late night snack. Medianoche is Spanish for midnight.
A Medianoche is pretty similar to the classic Cuban sandwich, but is smaller and made using a softer bread that is sweeter and includes egg in the dough. The bread used for Cuban sandwich contains no eggs and is more crusty, and it doesn’t have the rich yellow color of the Medianoche bread. The Medianoche bread is usually so big that it is cut into three parts, with each part being enough for one Medianoche sandwich.
The classic filling for a Medianoche is slices of slow-roasted pork, slices of ham, sliced Swiss cheese, mustard, and dill pickles. Just like a Cuban sandwich, the Medianoche is warmed while being pressed, creating a flat and compressed sandwich that is easy to eat without any utensils.
Recipe for Medianoche
1/3 medianoche bread
Mustard to taste
3 thin slices of slow-roasted roast pork (hot or cold)
3 thin slices of ham
3 thin slices of Swiss cheese
3 slices of pickles
Butter for the sandwich press
As mentioned above, the bread used for Medianoche is usually so big that one bread is cut into three parts, with each part being enough for one sandwich.
- Take your 1/3 of Medianoche bread and slice it lengthwise to get a top and a bottom.
- Spread mustards on both halves. How much mustard a person wants on his or her Medianoche is highly individual, so we have refrained from recommending any specific amount in this recipe.
- Place the ham on the bottom half of the Medianoche bread.
- Place pork on top of the ham
- Place cheese on top of the pork.
- Place pickles on top of the cheese.
- Place the top-bread on top of the pickles.
- Butter your Cuban sandwich press before placing the Medianoche in the press. Press down on the sandwich until the cheese is melted. The bread should now be slightly had to the touch.
- Slice the sandwich through diagonally to make two triangles before serving.
If you don’t have a Cuban sandwich press, you can place the sandwich in a hot (and buttered) skillet instead and use something heavy to press it down while frying the sandwich over medium-high heat. You can for instance take a heavy brick, wrap it in tinfoil, and use it to press down the sandwich.
How to make your own bread for Medianoche
Finding suitable bread for Medianoche can be difficult outside areas where a lot of Cubans live. But fear not, baking great Mediachoche bread at home isn’t very difficult if you follow this recipe.
This recipe yields 8 large breads.
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 3/4 cup warm milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 4 medium-sized eggs, beaten together
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 8 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Oil for greasing a bowl
- Egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water, beaten together )
- 2 tablespoons melted butter, to brush over the finished rolls
- The warm water should be around 40-45 degrees C. Too warm, and the yeast may die. Too cool, and it will take longer time for the bread to rise.
- In a bowl, combine warm water, milk, sugar and yeast.
- Leave the yeast mixture to rest until it gets foamy. This will usually take roughly 10 minutes. If it doesn’t turn foamy, there is a problem with the yeast and you should start over again with new yest, checking extra carefully that the liquid isn’t too warm for the yeast.
- Stir beaten eggs, honey and melted butter into the yeast-liquid.
Tip! With most butter brands, 8 tablespoons = 1 stick.
- In another mixing bowl (a large one), combine flour and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and gently add the liquid from the other bowl, a little at the time, mixing well with a spoon or your hands before each new addition.
- Knead the dough until it is smooth, elastic and not very sticky. You may have to remove the dough from the mixing bowl and put it on a clean and floured table in order to knead it properly. Add more flour if necessary.
- Shape the dough into a big ball.
- Grease a bowl with oil and place the dough in the bowl. Turn the dough around to make sure all sides of the dough gets greased.
- Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm area free from drafts. If the surrounding temperature is too cool or drafty, it will take a long time for the dough to rise. (Even when the temperature is warm, this dough will need 1-2 hours to rise and double in size.)
- When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Cover with the towel again, and leave in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. (Leaving it over night, or over the day when you are at work, is no problem.)
- Remove the dough from the fridge and let it rest in room temperature for half an hour.
- While the dough is resting, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C or 350 degrees F. Prepare the egg wash by beating 1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water together in a cup.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean and floured table. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Shape the pieces into oblong rolls and place them on the parchment paper. They can grow a bit bigger in the oven, so make sure they are spaced at least 2-3 cm (one inch) apart.
- Brush the rolls with egg wash.
- Bake the rolls in the oven until they are lightly browned. This will usually take about half an hour.
- Remove the rolls from the oven and place them on a cooling rack. While they are still warm, brush them with the melted butter.
- The rolls should ideally be allowed to cool down to room temperature before you cut them and use them for Medianoche sandwiches.
Lightly toasted, this bread is also used for Elena Ruz, a Cuban turkey sandwich with strawberry jam and cream cheese. An Elena Ruz is not pressed nor heated. The bread is just lightly toasted before the filling is added.