Here, the basic grilled cheese takes on a hit of salty smokiness with ham or turkey, and a complementary sweetness from sliced apple or pear. Almost any cheese with a propensity to melt can be used. For a vegetarian alternative to the basic recipe or any of the suggested variations listed below, omit the ham or turkey.
Servings: 4 sandwiches
- 8 slices sourdough bread (1/4 inch thick)
- 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 pound smoky ham, such as spiral-cut or Virginia country ham, cut into 4 or more slices
- Dijon-style mustard (optional)
- 1 small Bosc pear or Granny Smith apple (about 5 ounces), cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
- 6 ounces medium or sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
Place the slices of bread on a work surface. Generously butter 1 side of each slice of bread. Turn over 4 slices of the bread so the buttered side is down. Place a slice of ham on each of those four slices, folding it to fit if necessary. Add a light layer of mustard, if desired. Top each sandwich with 4 or 5 apple or pear slices, then a layer of cheese. (If you have only a single layer of fruit slices, the apple or pear will wilt rather than remain crisp.) Place the remaining 4 bread slices on top, buttered side up. (If the sandwich seems quite thick, press it down to compress the ingredients slightly.)
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches in the skillet (in batches if necessary) and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the undersides are golden brown and the cheese has begun to melt. Uncover, and turn the sandwiches with a spatula, pressing firmly to flatten them slightly. Cook for 1 minute or until the undersides are golden brown. Turn the sandwiches again, press them again and cook for 30 seconds, or until the cheese has melted completely. If the butter starts to brown, reduce the heat slightly.
Using the edge of the spatula, divide each sandwich in half. Serve immediately.
Young asiago, taleggio or fontina; pear; and smoked turkey.
Blue cheese; apple or pear; and ham.
Cheddar, apple and roast beef.
Blue cheese, watercress and roast beef.
Based on a recipe in "Great Grilled Cheese" by Laura Werlin (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2004).
Tested by Renee Schettler.
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