Thursday, October 19, 2017

Chile con Queso

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It's still football season, which means it's still my favorite time of the year. I'm also a big fan of fall, so that definitely helps too! One of my favorite things about football season is coming up with fun ideas for snacks to make while enjoying the game.


I recently planned a football-watching get-together with some good friends, and the result was a plethora of Tex Mex favorites. We had some layer dip, a taco ring, and of course molten hot chile con queso, made from scratch.


I know you can simply buy a jar of queso and stick it in the microwave, or melt together a block of Velveeta with a jar of salsa, but what's the fun in that? It's actually quite easy to make queso from scratch, and it's so tasty! I used my beloved homemade pickled jalapenos to really make it special.


What really took it over the edge for me was finding a bag of Tostitos emblazoned with the logo for the FIVE TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS!! Yep, I was willing to shell out extra, and skip over any sale brands of tortilla chips for the one marketing itself directly to me, a die hard Pats fan. Oh Tostitos, you really got me!


Regardless of who you are rooting for this Sunday (or Monday or Thursday), this chile con queso is so easy to make, and totally satisfies that gooey cheese, spicy, snacky craving at game time.


Chile con Queso
Makes about 4 cups
(From Tacolicious)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound Velveeta cheese, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 (7-ounce) can Ortega brand diced green chiles, drained
3/4 cup diced canned tomatoes with juice
1/4 cup drained canned or jarred sliced pickled jalapeno chiles
Tortilla chips, for dipping

Combine the oil, onion, and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the cheese and stir frequently until melted. Add the green chiles, tomatoes, and pickled jalapenos and stir until heated through.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm with tortilla chips for dipping.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Butternut Squash and Prosciutto Grilled Cheese

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As much as I enjoy a nice classic grilled cheese with good ol' American cheese smothered between slices of white bread, it really pales in comparison to a more gourmet version of the sandwich using fancier cheese, better bread, and generally more sophisticated ingredients.


For a seasonal variation, this grilled cheese stuffed with roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, and paper-thin slices of prosciutto is the way to go. Two kinds of cheese join to create a perfect marriage of gooey delight. The original recipe calls for Fontina Val d'Aosta and Idiazábal, but I substituted a nutty good-quality aged Gruyère for the latter.


My roasted butternut squash was not particularly sweet, and yet it balanced so beautifully with the slightly salty prosciutto. I used sourdough from my local Whole Foods, where I also purchased the prosciutto and the cheeses.


It crisped up beautifully in my skillet, although the "sage star" that the recipe directs you to make on one side of the sandwich didn't really work for me. The sage leaves just fell off while cooking, but still made a fun little garnish for my plate.


Butternut Squash and Prosciutto Grilled Cheese (aka Butternut Buster Grilled Cheese)
Serves 2

1 small butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeds and strings removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 small yellow onion, cut into 1/4-in dice
1 tablespoon salted butter, at room temperature
4 slices rustic artisan bread such as levain, sourdough, or white
8 fresh sage leaves
2 slices Italian-style fontina cheese, preferably Fontina Val d’Aosta
2 oz (55 g) thinly sliced prosciutto or speck
1 oz (25 g) Idiazábal cheese, grated (sub Gruyère cheese if you can't find it)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and coat well with nonstick cooking spray.

Cut the squash into slices about 1/4 in thick. Pile the squash on the prepared baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Toss to coat well and spread the squash slices to lie flat in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork and just beginning to brown. (If the squash begins to brown before softening, sprinkle with water and cover with foil.) Transfer to a wire rack and let cool on the pan. Set aside four of the cooked squash slices and store the rest for another use.

While the squash is roasting, warm the vegetable oil in a small skillet over low heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and stir to combine. Cover and cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until the onion is translucent and soft, about 8 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to medium, and cook, stirring often to prevent scorching, until the onion is the color of light brown sugar, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.

Spread the butter on one side of each bread slice, dividing it evenly. Place two slices, buttered-side up, on a clean cutting board. Carefully lay four of the sage leaves on each piece in a star pattern and, using your fingers, smear a little butter over the sage stars to hold them in place during cooking. Set aside on a corner of the cutting board.

Place the remaining bread, buttered-side down, on the cutting board. Layer half of the caramelized onions, one slice of the fontina, half of the reserved cooked squash, half of the prosciutto, and half of the Idiazábal on top of each. Finish with the decorated breads, sage stars facing up (my sage leaves fell off while cooking so I just sprinkled them on the plate for decoration).

Using a wide spatula, place both sandwiches in the pan with the sage stars facing down, cover, and cook until the bottoms are nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook until the second sides are browned and the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes longer.

Cut the sandwiches in half, if desired, and serve immediately, with the sage stars facing up.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Brined Pork Milanese with Tomato-Balsamic Sauce

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Growing up, most of my experiences eating pork chops were less than enjoyable. The chops were usually terribly overcooked and dry. This is a common issue with pork chops, as they are quite lean and easy to overcook. There is also a misconception that pork needs to be cooked super well-done in order to be safe to eat. This simply isn't true. Pork is technically safe to eat at an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.


So you can begin by not cooking the hell out of your pork chops. That's definitely a start, but how do you boost the flavor and juiciness even more? Brine your pork chops in a simple orange-infused brine, bread it with a mixture of well-seasoned breadcrumbs and panko, and cook it to a crisp in a hot skillet!


Chicken and steak are both common proteins used for a Milanese preparation, but these pounded-thin pork chops are an excellent alternative. Served with a balsamic and lemon-infused tomato sauce laced with a bit of heat, this brined pork Milanese is beautiful way to serve pork chips without drying them out.


They retain a juicy interior while boasting a crisp crust on the outside. This is definitely one of my new favorite ways to serve pork chops. Please note that the original recipe only called for 2 pork chops for serving 4, but there is easily enough brine and sauce to make 4 chops (or even more), so I've adjusted the recipe below.


You will likely still have extra sauce even with 4 pork chops. The leftover sauce would work well on pizza and even pasta. Mine was reminiscent of a silky marinara, smoother than if I had used canned plum tomatoes. Either texture is fine depending on your preference.


Brined Pork Milanese with Tomato-Balsamic Sauce
Makes 4 servings
(Adapted from Share)

Brine and Pork Chops:
2 cups water
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar (I used raw sugar)
1/4 cup kosher salt
Zest strips of 1/2 large orange, removed with a vegetable peeler
1 1/2 quarts ice water
4 boneless pork chops, each 8 ounces

Tomato-Balsamic Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed under a knife and peeled
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, coarsely crushed by hand (I use a can of tomato passata/puree because that's what I had on hand)
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, preferably aged balsamic
1 teaspoon sugar

Coating:
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good quality dried breadcrumbs (you can also make your own by toasting up some fresh breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (I didn't have any on hand, so I omitted this)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes

Vegetable oil, for frying

To brine the chops: Combine the water, sugar, salt, and orange zest in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar and salt. Transfer to a medium heatproof bowl, and stir in the ice water--the brine must be very cold.

Meanwhile, one at a time, place a pork chop between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound the chop with the flat side of a meat pounder until it is about 1/3-inch thick. Put the pork in a 1-gallon zippered plastic bag and pour in the brine. Seal the bag tightly, place in a bowl, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours, no longer.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Heat the oil and garlic together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the garlic is toasted to golden brown, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the garlic. Stir the hot pepper flakes into the oil. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices and the lemon zest. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 1 hour. During the last few minutes stir in the basil, oregano, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. Season to taste with salt as needed. The sauce can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat before serving.

To coat the pork chops: Remove the pork from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. Spread the flour in a wide shallow bowl. Beat the eggs, salt, and pepper together in a second shallow bowl. Mix the breadcrumbs, panko, parsley, lemon zest, and hot pepper flakes in a third bowl. One at a time, coat the pork in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip on both sides in the egg mixture and coat evenly with the panko mixture, patting it in gently to adhere. Transfer to a platter. Let the pork stand for about 10 minutes to set the coating.

Line a large baking sheet with paper towels. Pour enough oil into a very large skillet to come 1/4-inch (I used less) up the sides and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the pork to the oil and cook, adjusting the heat so the pork bubbles steadily in the oil without browning too quickly, until the underside is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the pork over and brown the other side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to the paper towels and drain briefly. Cut each pork chop crosswise into 1/2-inch strips (or serve them whole as I did). Transfer to a platter and serve immediately, with the tomato sauce on the side.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Hot Reuben Dip

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I ate my first Reuben sandwich pretty late in life, but it was extraordinary. I had never really been a corned beef kinda girl, but the combination of corned beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese smothered together between crisp rye bread is exceptional. I'm officially a fan.


I'm also a fan of making my own sauerkraut because it's crazy easy to do, and tastes way better than store-bought. Mine is less mushy and still retains a bit of crunch, which is how I prefer it.




Put together a batch of homemade sauerkraut and the need for Sunday football snacks, and the result is this simultaneously gooey and creamy hot Reuben dip. It's combines all of the flavors of a classic Reuben in a spoonable, spreadable mixture that makes it easy for snacking atop rye toasts.

Ready to bake

Bubbly and delicious!

The mayonnaise, Heinz chili sauce, and pickles make up the Thousand Island dressing portion of the dip.


I couldn't find cocktail rye bread at my local supermarket, so I opted to purchase regular rye bread and slice it into thirds before toasting in the toaster oven, making the pieces approximately the same size I would imagine as cocktail rye bread (give or take).


I challenge any Reuben aficionado to try this dip without falling head over heels. Crack open a beer and kick up your feet. This is pure comfort especially now as the weather FINALLY begins to cool down.


Hot Reuben Dip
Serves 6 to 8
(From Beer Bites)

8 ounces (225 g) Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese, shredded
4 ounces (115 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup (150 g) drained sauerkraut (mine was homemade)
4 ounces (115 g) corned beef, chopped
1/4 cup (40 g) minced dill pickles
1 tablespoon Heinz chili sauce or ketchup
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar with a pestle or in a spice grinder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cocktail rye bread, sliced and toasted, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat together the shredded cheese, cream cheese, and mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Stir in the sauerkraut, corned beef, pickles, chili sauce, caraway seeds, and pepper until well combined.

Spread the mixture in an attractive shallow baking dish. (At this point, the dip can be baked immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days before baking.) Bake until bubbly and lightly browned on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve the dip hot with the rye toasts.

Variation: Reuben Canapes
For a more polished presentation, spread the dip mixture on about 30 slices of cocktail rye bread (untoasted) and arrange them on two large rimmed baking sheets. Bake in a 300 degree F oven until the topping is melted and a bit crusty and the bread is toasted, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Garnish the canapes with halved cornichons before serving.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Saigon Street Wings

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It's officially chicken wing season, aka football season. Along with nachos, chicken wings are probably the most consumed snack during this time of year while enjoying the big game. I've given myself an unofficial goal to make special snacks for as many Patriots games as I possibly can this season (not necessary the nighttime games, but at least all the others).


This past weekend I cracked open my beloved Fried Chicken cookbook which contains several mouthwatering wing recipes. I elected the Saigon Street Wings, as I am a fan of all things Asian. These are easy enough to prepare, but require a bit of advanced prep since the wings must marinate overnight.


With a minimal ingredient list, these wings are a breeze. They marinate in a mixture of fish sauce, palm sugar or light brown sugar, and garlic. The same combination is used to make the glaze.


A couple quick notes. First of all, I halved this recipe when I  made it, and it was perfect for 3 of us snacking at the onset of the game (they didn't last long!). My wings marinated for a full 24 hours which was probably too long (the recipe states overnight, and well, technically it WAS overnight) as the wings were a touch on the salty side, but still very delicious. Next time I'd marinate them for about 12 hours give or take.


I also decided to reduce the sauce into a syrup while simultaneously frying up batches of wings in my deep fryer. This was not a great plan, as I was focusing more on the wings than the wing sauce. It ended up over-reducing/burning and I had to chuck it. Fortunately I was able to quickly whip up some replacement sauce and was more diligent in watching it the second time around.


Anyway, happy football season, y'all! Make these wings! They are YUMMY!!!


Saigon Street Wings
Serves 4 to 6
(From Fried Chicken)

4 pounds chicken wings, wing tips removed and cut in half at the joint
14 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup fish sauce
1 cup palm sugar, chopped, or firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying
2 cups rice flour
Cilantro, chopped, for serving

Place the wings in a large zip-top bag.

To make the marinade, in a large bowl, smash 10 cloves of the garlic and the salt together until they form a paste. Add the fish sauce, sugar, and 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil, and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Pour half of the marinade over the wings in the bag, rub to coat the chicken, seal, and refrigerate overnight. Cover and chill the remaining half of the marinade until you’re ready to fry the chicken.

Pour the reserved marinade (the portion that did not touch the chicken) into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, decrease the heat, and simmer until reduced and syrupy, about 35 minutes.

In a deep fryer or large, deep stockpot, heat 3 inches of vegetable oil over high heat to 350°F. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.

Place the rice flour in a large bowl. Remove the wings from the ziptop bag, discarding the marinade. Depending on the size of your fryer, you may need to fry in batches. Dredge half of the wings in the rice flour until well coated. Carefully place the chicken in the hot oil. Fry for 10 to 13 minutes, or until golden brown. Maintain an oil temperature of 325°F. Drain the wings on the wire rack. Repeat with the remaining pieces.

After all of the wings have been fried, mince the remaining 4 cloves of garlic and place in a fine-mesh wire strainer. Carefully dip the strainer into the hot oil, just deep enough to submerge the garlic, and cook for 10 to 15 seconds or until lightly browned. Transfer the fried wings to a large bowl, add the cooked marinade, and toss to coat. Transfer the glazed wings to another large bowl and toss with the fried garlic. (Using two bowls prevents the garlic from being coated in the glaze.) Serve with chopped cilantro.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Guajillo-Braised Beef Short Rib Tacos

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Happy Taco Tuesday! It's my favorite non-holiday, and luckily for me I can celebrate it weekly if I desire ;-)


A taco is perhaps the most delicious blank canvas I can think of. You start with a tortilla, traditionally a soft corn tortilla gently heated in a skillet to make it more pliable and enhance the flavor of the corn. You could easily opt for a flour tortilla, or a crunchy shell, but my favorite is always the tried and true (and more authentic) soft corn tortilla. I purchase mine at Trader Joe's.


Then you have your filling which can range from vegetables, beans, scrambled eggs, any type of meat or even seafood. Inspiration for a taco filling can come from almost anywhere. I've made Buffalo chicken tacos so anything is fair game.


Last but not least, you finish off the taco with toppings, which can include a myriad of salsas, guacamole, sour cream, chopped onion, cilantro, cheese, and more.


The magic occurs when all of these flavors are wrapped up together into a single bite, and it truly feels like magic with tacos as good as these. This Guajillo-Braised Short Rib filling is outstanding. The flavors are complex and fairly spicy, while the texture is unctuous and so melt-in-your-mouth tender!



The braising liquid consists of a mixture of toasted guajillo and chipotle chiles, onion, garlic, cumin, Mexican oregano, and dark Mexican beer.


I was supremely neurotic when shredding my short ribs and removed every speck of gooey fat because I seriously hate that texture, and didn't want anything distracting me from enjoying these perfectly braised short ribs. It's worth the extra effort in my opinion rather than just hastily shredding away. You owe it to yourself after waiting hours for them to finish cooking.

Top to bottom: seared short ribs, before braising, after braising 3 hours

This filling was actually prepared weeks in advance of a recent game night I hosted! It freezes, thaws, and reheats beautifully, making this a wonderful idea for a make ahead party dish or even a weeknight meal (Did someone say "Taco Tuesday?" Oh yeah, that was me).


These Guajillo-Braised Short Ribs are seriously epic in terms of taco fillings. I can't stress enough how amazingly delicious they are! Like I said earlier, they are on the spicy side, so I made sure to serve them with some sour cream to cool them down, some chopped onion for crunch, as well as a slightly mild homemade salsa verde.


I boiled about 1 pound tomatillos with 2 stemmed, halved and seeded jalapenos (normally I leave the jalapenos whole with the seeds in there but wanted to cut a bit of the spice since the filling was already pretty spicy), about 1/2 a large roughly chopped onion, and a couple peeled garlic cloves, then drained and pureed in a blender with some salt and ground coriander since I didn't have fresh cilantro on hand. The salsa verde received rave reviews all night, with threats to drink the remainder straight from the jar.


If you manage to have leftovers of this filling (hint: you won't!), it would be extraordinary on top of nachos as well, and with football season officially starting, I can't think of a better way to wrangle your friends to celebrate all the occasions worth celebrating!


Guajillo-Braised Beef Short Rib Tacos
Makes 16 tacos; serves 4 to 6 (we yielded 19 moderately stuffed tacos which comfortably fed 5 people without side dishes, but you can easily stuff 16 tortillas with a more generous amount of filling than we did)
(From Tacolicious)

8 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
3 dried chipotle chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 pounds boneless beef short ribs*
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 (12-ounce) bottle Negro Modelo or other dark Mexican beer
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup water
Corn tortillas, warmed, for serving
Chopped white onion, chopped fresh cilantro, salsa of choice, and lime wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Working in two batches if necessary to avoid crowding, lightly toast all of the chiles in a dry, heavy skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds on each side, until fragrant but not blackened. Set them aside on a plate.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot with a lid over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, working in batches to avoid crowding, add the meat and sear for about 3 minutes on each side, until the pieces have formed a uniformly browned crust. Add more oil to the pot as needed to prevent scorching. As the pieces are ready, set them aside on a plate.

Add the onion to the same same pot over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until it starts to brown. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour in the beer, add the toasted chiles, and turn down the heat to low. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the chiles have softened and are pliable. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Transfer the contents of the pot to a blender and reserve the pot. Add the cumin, pepper, oregano, salt, and water to the blender and blend the mixture on high speed until smooth and the consistency of cream, adding more water if needed to thin the mixture a bit.

Return the seared meat to the pot and pour in the chile mixture. Cover, transfer to the oven, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 hours, until the meat is fork-tender.

Remove from the oven and, using tongs or a couple of forks, shred the meat in the pot. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed. Serve with the tortillas, onion, cilantro, salsa, and lime.

*Note* You can ask your butcher to bone the ribs for you, or you can just cook them with the bone in and then bone them before shredding the meat. You'll need 5 pounds of bone-in short ribs to yield the required 3 pounds of meat. This dish can be on the spicy side, so if you're really sensitive to heat, cut back a little on the chiles.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Green Eggs and Ham Grilled Cheese

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Do you like green eggs and ham? Would you like them in a house? Would you like them with a mouse? Would you eat them in a box? Would you eat them with a fox? Would you? Could you? In a car? Eat them! Eat them! Here they are!


Most people in the English-speaking world should at least be familiar with Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham. As a concept, they are quite gross. Think rotten eggs and ham. But truly, they are one of the most epic combinations to be recreated in the home kitchen using clever techniques to add green color to eggs and ham.

Ready to grill this cheese!

An easy way to achieve this would be to make a ham omelet with pureed greens, but an even more fun idea is to take this idea and transform it into a grilled cheese blurring the line between breakfast and lunch.

Everything's better with a fried egg on top

The key ingredient here is sage Derby cheese. Now this is not your ordinary cheese. I sought out this green-hued cheese at local cheese shops and cheese counters at well-stocked supermarkets in my area with no success.


I found it available online, but at an obnoxious price once accounting for shipping (and with a requirement to purchase way more cheese than I really needed). I put this cheese search on the back burner, hoping it would turn up someday, and luckily for me it did!


I was recently visiting family in Montreal, doing some grocery shopping at my favorite grocery store ever Marché Adonis. Lo and behold in my peripheral vision in the cheese display I saw a giant wheel of green cheese. Oh, could it be? Could it be the cheese for me?


It was the sage Derby cheese I had been seeking for weeks! Needless to say, I purchased some of that cheese immediately and even shared the excitement on my Instagram account for the world to share in my joy!


So the sage Derby cheese is literally the glue the holds this sandwich together, and is also what makes it "green." The cheese is also absolutely delicious on its own, and is reminiscent of a good cheddar.



With that said, the other ingredients are just as important. Egg enriched challah bread makes this sandwich extra special, along with thinly sliced ham, and a fried egg with lots and lots of runny golden yolk.

Sandwich #2 created an egg yolk avalanche over Mickey ;-)

If you can find a source for sage Derby cheese, seriously make this sandwich! It's so yummy, and it's actually super easy to make (way easier than it was for me to buy this cheese). Another cheese would also be great in this sandwich, but it would no longer be "green." You can definitely fry your egg alongside your sandwich in the same pan, but I tried both ways and preferred frying mine in a separate frying pan. No biggie either way.


Green Eggs and Ham Grilled Cheese
Serves 2
(From Grilled Cheese Kitchen)

1 tablespoon salted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
4 slices challah or pain de mie
4 slices sage Derby cheese
4 oz (115 g) thinly sliced ham
2 eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.

In a small bowl, stir together the butter and sage until well blended.

Spread half the sage butter on one side of two of the bread slices, dividing it evenly. Place both slices, buttered-side down, on a clean cutting board. Place one slice of the Derby on each bread slice, then lay half of the ham on top of the cheese on one slice.

Using a wide spatula, transfer the two breads, buttered-side down, to the hot skillet. Coat a clear area in the pan with nonstick cooking spray, then carefully crack one of the eggs into the greased space. Sprinkle the egg with salt and pepper (I cooked my egg in a separate smaller frying pan).

While the egg is cooking, keep an eye on your breads. When the bottoms are nicely browned and the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes, return them to the cutting board. When the egg white is mostly cooked through, carefully flip the egg with a silicone spatula. (Don’t worry if you break the yolk; it will still be delicious.) Cook for about 30 seconds longer, or until the egg white is fully cooked but the yolk is still soft.

Slide the fried egg on top of the ham and gently place the other bread on top, cheese-side down. Cut the sandwich in half, if desired, and serve. Repeat to cook and assemble the second sandwich.

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