Here’s a fun twist on the classic grilled ham and cheese sandwich using a combination of smoky, salty, tangy and sweet ingredients. It’s really good! You’ll definitely want to use a good quality bread…something sturdy (I’ve found that normal sandwich bread can be too soft for paninis). I used Portland French Bakery’s Sliced Rustic Wheat Bread because it’s one of my favorite breads for paninis. I also used sharp cheddar instead of medium cheddar. Serve with lightly dressed salad greens if you like. Enjoy!
Smoked Ham, Cheddar Cheese and Pear Panini
-recipe from Williams-Sonoma.com
Here, the flavors of salty ham and sweet pears are nicely balanced by pungent mustard and a full-flavored cheddar cheese. If you can’t find a Bartlett pear, a Comice or Anjou is a good substitute. Accompany the sandwiches with a simple tossed green salad. If you have a panini press or a panini grill, use it as directed in the manufacturer’s instructions.
8 thick slices multigrain bread
1/2 cup whole-grain mustard
1/2 lb. thinly sliced smoked ham
1 Bartlett pear, peeled, cored and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick
1/2 lb. medium-sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
Directions: Brush the bread slices on one side with the mustard. Divide the ham evenly among 4 of the slices. Top with the pear slices and then with cheese. Top with the remaining bread slices, mustard side down.
Heat a grill pan or heavy fry pan over medium-high heat. Brush the outsides of the sandwiches with the olive oil.
When the pan is hot, place 2 sandwiches in the center. Set another heavy pan on top of the sandwiches and place 2 or 3 heavy cans in the pan to weight it down evenly. Cook the sandwiches until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the sandwiches over, weight them again, and cook until browned on the other side and the cheese is melting, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the sandwiches to a plate. Repeat to cook the remaining 2 sandwiches. Cut the sandwiches in half, place on individual plates and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).