Thursday, April 8, 2010
“Eternity is two people and a ham," wrote Irma S. Rombauer in the original Joy of Cooking. Perhaps you can relate to this statement. I certainly know I can. It's the week after Easter and in my house that means we are diligently trying to use up the leftover Honey Baked Ham.
Every year I order more than we need. Perhaps I forget how hard it was to use up all the ham the year before or perhaps, because I only order Honey Baked Ham once a year, I get excited and order much more than could ever be consumed by two people in a reasonable amount of time. Whatever the reason, here I am, left with my piles of ham.
The ham bone was frozen for use in split pea or navy bean soup somewhere down the road, a half pound of ham was neatly diced and stowed in the freezer to have at the ready as a flavor base or to add to soups, and a ham and cheese quiche is on the menu for this weekend; still, I was in need of some new inspiration.
It came in the form of slices of ham and cheese sandwiched between two pieces of sourdough and smothered in a cheesy béchamel. In other words it came in the form of a croque monsieur. This happens to be my boyfriend's favorite sandwich and I am baffled at how it managed to escape me as a way to use up leftover ham.
The thick-cut Honey Baked Ham works perfectly in this sandwich. Gruyere is a traditional accompaniment, but I found that a blend of gruyere and swiss was particularly delicious. There is something about ham and swiss that just works.
This isn't the lightest or healthiest way to follow up Easter dinner, but let's be honest. Who hasn't already had a few too many pieces of Easter candy this week? Can one croque monsieur really do that much damage?
Adapted from Ina Garten
2 T unsalted butter
3 T flour
2 cups hot milk
1 t kosher salt
½ t pepper
6 oz grated gruyere or gruyere / swiss blend
½ cup grated parmesan
8 slices sourdough bread
4 – 6 slices of Honey Baked Ham, or any thick-cut, cooked ham
Preheat oven to 400*
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and use a rubber spatula to combine. Cook the butter and flour for about two minutes, stirring constantly with the spatula. Add the milk, a half cup at a time, making sure the milk is fully incorporated before adding more. Let the béchamel simmer until thickened, stirring constantly for about five minutes. Turn off the heat and add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, ½ cup of gruyere and the parmesan cheese. Set aside.
Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for five minutes. Turn the slices over and toast for an additional two minutes. Brush half the bread slices with mustard on one side and place one to one and a half slices of ham on top. Sprinkle the ham slices with half the remaining gruyere. Spread about a ¼ cup of béchamel over each of the remaining other slices and use them to top the sandwiches (béchamel side down). Spread the remaining béchamel evenly over the top of the four sandwiches and sprinkle with the remaining gruyere. Bake for five minutes. Turn the broiler on and place the sandwiches under the broiler until bubbly and browned, about five minutes.