Cuban Meatballs

Cuban Meatballs

I think there is going to be a meatball renaissance. Call it a hunch. In fact, we’re going to launch the campaign now. Let’s #MakeMeatballsGreatAgain.

A lot of people hear the word “meatball” and instantly feel like yawning. Not me. My first thought is “What kind of meatballs?” I have seen how hamburgers have become the latest craze for creativity. What is a meatball but a ground up burger, bun and all? Why shouldn’t it be as trendy as its cousin?

Cuban Meatballs
What you love about a Cuban sandwich is in this meatball recipe … pork, ham, pickles, mustard, cheese and, yes, even the bread!

For the past 10 days or so, we have been in the middle of a very typical Iowa July weather pattern … HOT and HUMID! Today is one of those days that allows me to make it through another Iowa summer. It’s 4:00 in the afternoon,the temperature has dropped to the high 70’s, and the breeze is light. I know most people dread winter in Iowa but it’s the summer humidity that gives me Seasonal Affective Disorder.

And yet, when I want to complain about the heat and humidity, I only have to think about my relatives in Miami, and I could just kiss my air conditioner. Whenever I start thinking about them, I also start craving Cuban food. I have become a big fan of the Cuban Sandwich. Ham, pork, swiss cheese, mustard, and dill pickles all layered between slices of Cuban bread. It’s not easy to find Cuban bread here in Iowa, so I usually end up using a French or Italian loaf. I was curious though … what makes Cuban bread, Cuban?

Wikipedia says “Cuban bread is a fairly simple white bread, similar to French bread and Italian bread, but has a slightly different baking method and ingredient list (in particular, it generally includes a small amount of fat in the form of lard or vegetable shortening); it is usually made in long, baguette-like loaves.”

Did you catch that? LARD!

It makes everything better!

As much as I love and respect lard, there is a time and a place for its use. This is not the time or venue. This is the time for meatballs. As I’ve mentioned before, what is a meatball but a ground-up sandwich? Therefore, I give you …

Cuban Meatballs

Cuban Meatballs

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 60 Meatballs


  • 1 1/2 pounds ham loaf 2/3 ground ham; 1/3 ground pork
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground pork sausage
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
  • 4-6 tablespoons dill relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • 4 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • olive oil
  • Coarse-ground black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Combine all ingredients, except oil and pepper, in a large bowl by hand.
  • Roll mixture into balls about 1 1/2" in diameter or use a cookie scoop.
  • Place on baking sheets. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Turn meatballs over, return to oven, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until fully cooked.

These would be great with a side of black beans, sour-cream and dill cucumber slices, sweet corn, and/or sliced fresh tomatoes. I plan to eat the leftovers (as pictured) as an appetizer with a side of Mojito!

What you love about a Cuban sandwich is in this meatball recipe … pork, ham, pickles, mustard, cheese and, yes, even the bread!

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