Ham, Brie and Honeycrisp Panini

Sep 28th

I once worked for a neighbor/family friend who had a little cafe. I was probably sixteen, and she intended me to waitress. Turned out I was a really, REALLy bad waitress. The neighbor actually had to tell me, “you’ve got two strikes, one more and you’re out”. And I got the third strike. They moved me back to the kitchen. The silver lining is that I learned how to make a mean tuna salad. The dark stormy cloud is that sucked as a waitress (my time at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House further supported this sad fact). What’s the connection to this sandwich? I’m getting there.

On the menu of this little cafe was a ham and brie sandwich. It was a top seller, and since then I’ve always figured ham and brie were a typical match. It’s weird, though, I haven’t seen it on a menu since then. The only thing better than brie is a honeycrisp apple. I mean really, is there anything better than a honeycrisp apple (and yes, it’s one word, I looked it up). They’re gigantic, crazy sweet, perfectly crunchy and somehow always really cold. Anyways – creamy brie, salty ham and mustard, and sweet honey-ed apples pair up to make a heck of a sandwich. It’s fine if you don’t have a panini press – while you’re cooking this on a griddle or skillet just press down with another saute pan. Flip and press again.

Would make for a fancy lunch/brunch OR a quick weeknight dinner! Oh – I say in the ingredients to cut off the “white stuff” on the brie. I know it’s edible, but I think it’s weird and trim mine off. If you want to keep it, feel free. What is that stuff anyways? It’s like paper, but it’s not.

Ham, Brie, and Honeycrisp Panini

Makes 4

1 (large) Honeycrisp apple, peeled, cored, thinly sliced

1 tsp. honey

Pinch salt and pepper

8 slices hearty bread (preferably tuscan style)

1/4 c. stone ground dijon mustard (creamy would work fine)

1/2 lb. deli ham

5 oz. Brie, trimmed of “white stuff” and sliced

Butter for bread

1. Preheat panini press, grill pan, griddle or skillet (for sandwiches) over medium heat. Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat (for apples). Spray with nonstick spray and saute apples, honey, salt and pepper until golden and slightly softened.

2. Spread one slice of bread with mustard, then place apples on top.

3. Arrange ham on top of apples, then top with brie. I sliced the brie – which is a mess unless you chill it in the freezer beforehand – then worked the brie between my fingers to flatten it before placing it on the ham. It’s okay if the ham isn’t totally covered as the cheese will melt down. 

4. Place second bread slice on top of cheese. Spread a thin layer of butter on both sides of sandwiches. Place on panini press (or however you will be cooking them). If using a griddle/grill pan/skillet, press down on sandwiches with another skillet/griddle while they cook. 

5. Slice diagonally and serve.

I served these with coleslaw – any chilled, light salad would work well. 

 

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