Thursday, April 4, 2013

Not Your Average H&C

There is a little local sandwich shop that Henry and I love to visit for lunch and weekend breakfasts. In a town where franchise chain restaurants seem to be overpopulating, this "mom-and-pop" spot is filled charm. They make amazing sandwiches and have a huge knack for pairing interesting flavors together to make ordinary sandwiches truly unique and extra delicious. Additionally, they make all their bread fresh, daily--Good Sandwich 101: You ALWAYS start with good quality bread!  
All of their items are made using fresh, natural, and simple ingredients. This makes my belly happy which then leaves me inspired to try and recreate my favorite sandwiches at home. Hands down, Henry and I agree that our true love at this little shop is their special ham & cheese.
Now, you must know that I am not a fan of ham at all. I never cared for the meat growing up and it's still my least favorite dish at Thanksgiving. I love bacon, prosciutto, and other pork cuts, but ham is just not my thing. However, if you ever witnessed me eating one of these  ham & cheese sandwiches, you would have thought I was the Big Bad Wolf and that the little piggy definitely didn't make it home (sorry vegetarians).
 This ham & cheese is fantastic! An old classic deli sandwich gets the volume turned up with creamy mascarpone cheese , apricot preserves, and a little kick from jalapeño peppers. It's a little sweet and spicy; it's a whole lot of deliciousness! To make it a breakfast entree, a fried egg gets added-- cooked over medium and it's a perfect addition.
I'm not kidding, this ham and cheese sandwich will change your life. If you're not a ham lover, you may become one. And, if you are already a fan of the deli meat, you may find yourself wondering why it never lived up to such potential in a sandwich before.
Breakfast Ham & Cheese Sandwich
*inspired by Baguette's Deli, Elk Grove, Ca.
makes 4 small sandwiches (adjust the amount of ingredients based on the number of servings you are making)

8 slices of ciabatta bread (about 6" in width)
mascarpone cheese
natural apricot preserves (I used one with reduced sugar)
1 jalapeño pepper (seeds/ribs removed and thinly sliced)
black forest ham
4 large eggs
olive oil
panini grill (or two skillets)

1. Lay out the bread on a platter and spread about 1/2-1 tbsp of mascarpone cheese on 4 slices. Spread 1/2-1 tbsp of apricot preserves on the remaining 4 slices. Sprinkle the sliced jalapeño over each piece of bread. *Note: Add more or use less of the spreads/jalapeño to fit your taste. 

2. Add 2-3 slices of black forest ham onto the slices of bread covered with mascarpone cheese. Top all of these slices with their corresponding apricot preserve sides. Grill on a heated panini press (or on a pan using another skillet to weigh down the sandwiches on the stove) for about 5-8 minutes on medium-low. The bread should be crisp and golden brown.

3. While the sandwiches are being grilled/pressed, heat a griddle pan or skillet with a little olive oil. Fry up one egg  for each sandwich. For over-medium eggs, cook one side on medium-low until the whites settle (about 3-4 minutes). Gently flip each egg and cook the other side for an additional 3-4 minutes. *Note: Cook the egg according to your preference-- if you want the yolk a little runnier, then reduce the amount of time.

4. To assemble, remove the sandwiches from the panini press/grill and place them on plates or a platter. Remove one side of each sandwich, place a fried egg inside, then place the top slice back. Enjoy!

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