Quite a few years ago I went to Miami and had my first Cuban Sandwich which I fell in love with. Upon arriving home eventually a craving hit but Cuban Sandwiches are hard to come by this far north. I researched recipes and while doing so, I stumbled upon a different kind of Cuban sandwich called the “Elena Ruz” and an interesting story about how it came to be.
According to Wikipedia, Elena Ruz was a young society debutante in 1930’s Cuba who would stop at a popular Havana restaurant called El Carmelo. Each time Elena visited the restaurant she requested they make her something that they didn’t have on the menu – a sandwich to her specifications prepared on medianoche bread with cream cheese, strawberry jam, and thin slices of turkey breast. Eventually El Carmelo put the sandwich on the menu, calling it, por supuesto, the Elena Ruz.
For some reason the odd combination seemed appealing to me, so I tried the sandwich, using King’s Hawaiian Rolls as a substitute for medianoche bread, (which I’ve never seen sold around here.) This Cuban sandwich also became a favorite of mine. If you want to give it a try, here’s how I make it.
Elena Ruz Sandwich
King’s Hawaiian Rolls
1. Slice Hawaiian rolls open. Spread cream cheese on the bottom half and strawberry jelly on the top half.
2. Put a few slices of turkey on top of the cream cheese and close the sandwich.
3. Grease a non-stick skillet or griddle with a little butter over medium heat. Toast the sandwich on one side, applying gentle pressure with a spatula. Flip and do the same to the other side.
4. Serve warm!