My mom always says that the egg is nature’s perfect food. I do love eggs, but I think grilled cheese is a close rival. And I dare to say that grilled ham and cheese ranks even higher in my cheese-obsessed brain. Perhaps you are scoffing at my suggestion. Perhaps you are wondering how I could make such a bold statement. Perhaps you are asking, “where is bacon in this ridiculous discussion?”
Theses are valid points and questions, but I will maintain that for a true cheese lover, grilled ham and cheese is better than a grilled cheese with bacon. The ham adds a desirable salty, porky flavor; however, it is not as rich as bacon so you taste the flavor of the cheese more, and the tender texture of ham gives way to the oozy, melty texture of cheese. If you are still appalled, you are probably more of a bacon lover than a cheese lover, in which case, the more power you.
Obviously, cheese wins with me over bacon. And to satisfy and honor my deep-seeded love, I made the most beautiful grilled ham and cheese sandwich earlier this week. It has been so cold here in Colorado, which is an excellent excuse for grilled cheese, not that I need one. (Oddly enough, I am now sitting outside writing this, drenched in so much sunshine that I don’t need a coat.) I used rosemary sourdough bread, which can be found at Whole Foods, and it may actually be the best bread IN THE WORLD. Seriously. It is truly unbelievable: crunchy crust, chewy interior, and loaded with fresh rosemary. It is a work of art, but I digress.
I then layered the bread with a symphony of three cheeses and ham. First, I put down two paper-thin slices of Muenster, followed by one thicker slice of Swiss cheese. I then added two thin (not shaved) slices of lightly smoked ham, folded and lightly bunched where necessary to fit the bread. Last, I added a thick layer of shredded smoked Gouda, which really took the sandwich to a higher level. I just happened to have these cheeses in my fridge. It was a winning combination, but any cheese that melts well is a winner on a grilled cheese sandwich. With a light, even layer of butter on the bread, I cooked the sandwich in a non-stick skillet, low and slow. My friend, Lindsay, from college makes masterful grilled cheese sandwiches and that’s how she’s always told me to do it. I would spend half an hour patiently grilling a sandwich that ends with oozing cheese and golden bread, than burn my potentially perfect dinner. I also ‘splurged’ on a can of Amy’s tomato soup. I will admit that it seems insane to spend nearly 4 dollars on a can of soup, but in this situation, you get what you pay for.
December 10, 2011