Saturday, October 23, 2021

Grilled Ham and Gouda Sandwich


In the Middle Ages, a family named Van Der Goude built a fortified castle along a stream in southern Holland. The area around the castle became a settlement where goods made around the countryside would be sold in the markets. Feudal rights were granted during that period and cities could become official trading centers for certain products.

I know you're smart enough to figure the rest out. The Van Der Goudes named their little slice of heaven "Gouda". And in 1184 AD they were granted the right to be the authorized trading city for cheese in the Netherlands. The cheese, which was made in the surrounding countryside, became known as Gouda Cheese. In America, we have totally screwed up the name by pronouncing it "goo-da". In the Dutch language, the "g" is a guttural sound and is pronounced "(g)how-da".

Gouda is made from cow's milk. Unlike all other cheeses, Gouda becomes sweeter the longer it ages. It's that sweetness that makes such a remarkable contrast to the salty and smoky ham. I'm sure you've had a ham and cheese sandwich before...but ham and Gouda are on a whole different level. Bon Appetit's brilliant recipe adds artisan bread, caramelized onions and torn frisée to the mix. This recipe makes 2 sandwiches, but I swear I could eat 4 of these sonsabitches all by myself in a single sitting.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
Unsalted butter at room temperature
4, 1/3-inch-slices of sourdough bread
4 ounces thinly sliced smoked ham, divided
3 ounces Gouda cheese, thinly sliced, divided 
2 large handfuls of frisée, torn into small pieces (about 1 cup)

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until onion is very tender and golden, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. Cool slightly.
  2. Butter 2 bread slices. Place bread, buttered side down, on a platter. Divide onion, ham, cheese and frisée between bread slices. Top each with a bread slice and butter the top of each slice.
  3. Heat another large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sandwiches and cook until bread is golden brown and cheese melts, pressing occasionally with your spatula, about 4 minutes per side. Cut sandwiches in half diagonally and serve immediately.

Wine pairing: Gouda loves the tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon

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