Pizzas are everywhere in Havana, surprising the palette with a range of hot spices offset by a tangy pungency that’ll make anyone’s mouth water. Latin American cuisine also birthed the timeless Cuban sandwich fondly known as a Cubano. We’ve transformed everyone’s favorite lunch staple into a must-try pizza Cubano recipe with ingredient options for Vegans. The key to this recipe is a touch of mojo and just the right balance of ingredients. Let’s take a closer look.
Whether you’re catering for kids or aiming to exceed the expectations of a foodie, there are few better ways to present an authentic array of flavors than a perfectly cooked pizza. Our Cubano pizza recipe integrates the blend of rich, savory, and spicy tastes offset by citrus integral to Cuban cuisine while incorporating a homemade base that’ll blow any mediocre offering and most pro pizzas clean out the water.
Pizza Dough Ingredients
- 2 1/4 Cups Of Bread/All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Cup Of Warm Water
- 1 Tablespoon Of Honey/Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Of Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Of Olive/Canola Oil
- 2 Teaspoons Of Active Yeast
- Semolina Or Regular Flour For Dusting
Mustard Aioli Ingredients
- 1/2 Cup Of Mayonnaise
- 1/4 Cup Of Yellow Mustard
- 3 Tablespoons Of Pickle Juice/Lemon Juice
- 1/2 Teaspoon Of Lime Zest
- 1 Teaspoon Of Dry Mustard
Mojo Sauce/Marinade Ingredients
- 1 Large Bulb Of Garlic +- 10 Cloves
- 2 Chopped Cachucha Or Cubanelle Peppers Alternatively, 1 Small Bell Pepper
- 1 Large Orange Juiced (Sour Orange Highly Preferred)
- 1 Large Lime Juiced
- 1/3 Cup Olive/Canola Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Chopped Basil
- 1 Teaspoon Cumin
- Salt & Pepper
Pizza Cubano Toppings
- Marinated Sliced Or Pulled Roast Pork Shoulder/Tenderloin Or Marinated Roasted Black Beans
- Sliced Ham Vegan Alternative – 1 Teaspoon Miso Paste
- 6 Cloves Of Garlic
- 6 Pickles
- 1 Large Onion Finely Diced
- Swiss Cheese
- Vegan Cheese Vegan Mozzarella Or Almond Ricotta
- Yellow Mustard
- Assemble your ingredients.
- Before you start preparing pizza dough and chopping your toppings, it’s best to make the mojo first. Ideally, the meat or beans used in this recipe should be chopped (or sliced in the case of a roast) to the desired consistency and marinated overnight. If you’re pressed for time, make the mojo and douse your roast pork or beans in the sauce right at the start of making pizza.
- Start making mojo by grinding the garlic and chili using a mortar and pestle or process accordingly in a food processor. Alternatively, mince together as finely as possible.
- Once a paste-like texture is reached, blend in your orange and lime juice and the herbs and spices.
- Mix well and season according to taste.
Roasted Topping Preparation
- The richest flavor for an elevated pizza Cubano recipe would be authentic Cubano pork made fresh. Unfortunately, this takes more time than most of us have. It’s far more likely to find roast pork shoulder, tenderloin, or another cut in a deli or on-hand, leftover in the fridge. As mentioned, Cuban mojo is both a sauce and marinade that needs time to work best. We suggest filling a baking dish with enough mojo to just cover your sliced, chopped, or pulled roast pork. Leave it to infuse for as long as possible before roasting lightly for 5 to 10 minutes in the oven at 400°F before using as a topping.
Making Vegan Mojo Roasted Beans
- Feel free to use your own favorite recipe for roasted black beans. Just make sure to cover them with mojo and let the sauce soak in for a while before using it as a pizza topping. Otherwise, follow this basic procedure.
- Soak, rinse and boil the black beans until soft, or make sure your choice of canned variety is well-washed.
- Once ready, coat the beans in olive/canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Black beans don’t need much to taste great but feel free to add a little garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, and perhaps a sprig or two of fresh thyme and oregano to bring out a rich earthy, aromatic flavor similar to roast pork.
- Once seasoned and coated, roast uncovered on high heat (400°F) + for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, drench the beans in mojo, stirring well, and cover the dish with foil. If you have some additional time or are preparing early, feel free to allow the black beans to marinate for up to 6 hours or more before roasting.
- Return your beans to the oven, and continue to roast for a further 10 minutes.
- The more mojo, the better when it comes to the protein in this pizza Cubano recipe. The pork or beans must be loaded with mojo instead of overpowering the rest of the flavors by using the citrusy roasty complement directly as a sauce on the pizza.
Pizza Dough Preparation
- A well-kneaded pizza dough can rise for up to two hours so be sure to make yours well before you intend to bake it.
- Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix well.
- Proof your yeast by placing it in half a cup of warm water combined with either sugar or honey in a separate bowl. The optimal temperature is 115°F, but if you don’t have a thermometer handy and prefer not to take a chance, mix together 1 ¼ cups of boiling water with 2 ½ cups of cold water, and you can’t go wrong. Just dispense the cup of warm water that you need for blooming.
- Allow the yeast to proof/bloom for 5 to 10 minutes, waiting for it to froth significantly before proceeding.
- Create a well in the center of your flour and add the proofed yeast liquid.
- Mix gradually while adding the remaining half a cup of warm water and the cooking oil to form a workable dough.
- When the dough is sticky but pliable, transfer to a floured surface. If semolina is available, use it as your dusting powder to give your pizza base the perfect slightly gritty texture otherwise, regular flour will do.
- Knead your pizza dough for 6 to 8 minutes, gauging its progress by how elastic it becomes. Depending on your technique, kneading by hand can take up to 20 minutes but take care not to overwork your dough – we’ve got tips to help you tell when to stop kneading coming up soon.
- Divide your pizza dough into two even balls and allow to rise in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with a damp cloth in a warm area for 30 to 40 minutes or until at least doubled in size (this can take longer). While waiting for your pizza dough, move on to preparing the mustard aioli to use once each base is ready.
- Once risen, roll each pizza out until it’s approximately 1/4 inch thick for a thin crust pizza or 1/2 inch for a deep-dish pizza with a smaller diameter.
Mustard Aioli Preparation
- Combine the mayonnaise, yellow mustard, and pickle juice or lemon juice and mix well.
- Add the dry mustard powder and combine until smooth.
- Allow the mustard aioli to chill in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes before use.
- As soon as the aioli is done chilling, move on to assembling your pizza and preheat the oven.
Assembling Your Pizza Cubano Recipe
- With your pizza bases rolled out and all your core ingredients prepped, it’s time to start preheating and assembling your pizza Cubano.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F.
- Prick each pizza base lightly everywhere evenly with a fork.
- Bake each base (uncoated) for no more than 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Once cool enough to touch, cover each pizza liberally with mustard aioli.
- Spread out roughly half a cup to a cup’s worth of mojo marinated roast pork or black beans evenly across the pizza.
- Cover with sliced ham or optionally add a few dabs of miso paste here and there if Vegan (no more than a teaspoon).
- Layer slices of Swiss cheese (at least two slices covering everywhere) evenly over the whole pizza or omit this step if Vegan (otherwise use two varieties of Vegan cheese and layer the stronger tasting one here).
- Slice your pickles lengthways into wafer-thin slices and arrange as preferred over the cheese or protein using around three pickles in total per pizza.
- Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle mozzarella or Vegan cheese liberally over the entire pizza making sure all toppings are covered.
- Drizzle a little yellow mustard over the pizza’s surface using sparingly in blobs or as a continuous thin line.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the pizza base is just cooked.
Substitutions & Shortcuts
To make pizza Cubano in a hurry, there are a number of shortcuts available. Store-bought pizza dough or sourdough saves a lot of time. When making your own for a hungry family or friends who demand pizza pie in a jiffy, minimal rising time is needed. Go for 10 minutes at least, but make sure you’ve rolled each base flat so that there are no air pockets left. Many stores stock mojo marinade, and while chefs largely agree it has a far more subtle flavor than a home-cooked sauce, commercially produced mojo is still a flavorful time-saver.
Serrano, Bolo, Hickory, or even luxurious Liberian ham are all excellent possibilities for an unforgettable pizza. Traditional Cubano sandwiches don’t typically include salami unless they’re made by the South Florida community or those with a fondness for Tampa cuisine. Swapping out the ham for salami is nonetheless a tasty option, but don’t rule out adding additional salami to this pizza Cubano recipe either. In most cases, less is more when it comes to a pizza, but this is one definite exception.
Prebaking ensures that your pizza isn’t cooked to a crisp in order to bake the pizza pie’s base through. The best way to tell that you’re done kneading, and it’s time to let your dough rise is to pull the dough apart and see if it stretches or tears. There should be no stickiness left, and the dough must pull apart and begin to spring back towards your fingers with tearing. If it is ripping apart, knead the dough more. When the pizza dough is ready, it’ll stretch enough to shine light through without tearing, indicating what is known as the gluten window.
Knowing when to roll out your pizza bases is vitally important. You know that your dough is done rising by doing a ‘poke test.’ Coat your knuckle in oil and then, quite literally, poke the dough with pressure as if you were poking another person in an attempt to get their attention. If it slowly but steadily starts to regain its form, springing back into place, the dough is ready to be shaped into pizza. You don’t want it springing back too fast, or it needs more proofing. If the dough doesn’t spring back at all, it’s over-proofed.
If you’re looking for the authentic Cuban experience, don’t forget to shape your pizza bases to just the right size to fold in half and hold in one hand. That’s right – Cuban pizza is typically folded and eaten like a taco! Also, try to hunt down Cachucha chilis for the distinctive mild heat that characterizes almost all Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican cuisine. It’s well worth it, granting a sweet-spicy balance that’s hard to beat.