So today, I woke up hungry, which doesn’t usually happen. I usually down an espresso and slowly eat a croissant, enjoying the taste more than the hunger-sating effects.
Not today. Today I decidedly needed something more filling for my “breakfast” at 3 in the afternoon. Since I had figured out that some of the bread we keep here is actually decent for sandwiches, especially grilled cheese, I decided to have another go at it. Since there is no wood burning fire today, I also had to make it on the stovetop. Now, I’m sure this is good news to you, since you probably didn’t say to yourself during my last grilled cheese making episode, “hey, I’ve got a big wood fire going in my kitchen right now! I think I’ll go make grilled cheese!” Nor did it prompt you to light one. (If it did, you might be a pyro, and should stay away from the flame. -Surgeon General’s Warning)
So, there was a small crisis when I could not find the proscuitto cotto (aka, ham), and thought I would have to have a “plain” grilled cheese. No sir. I did find the ham, the cheese and some lovely looking Roma tomatoes. (As a side note, they are suprisingly not called Roma tomatoes here. They’re just….tomatoes. When I saw them I said, hey, pomodori di Roma, eh? Donatella looked at me, as always, like I was nuts.)
So I came up with a gameplan. Fry the tomatoes, and make a tomato/ham/cheese melty sandwich of goodness. I quickly wrote up a menu using Japansese calligraphy.
I began by slicing the tomatoes in 3/8ths of an inch slices. By hand. 3/8ths of an inch. You can vary this thickness, but it just wont be the same.
Next, I salted and peppered one side of the slices, and heated up some olive oil.
Make sure you get two pans out. You don’t wanna be caught searching for a pan while your tomatoes are burning, now, do ya?
While the oil was heating, I formed the sandwiches. Two slices of thinly sliced cheese on each piece of bread, and 1 slice of ham (again, thinly sliced. This isn’t a Hungry Man Frozen Melty Sandwich.) on each side of the bread.
The whole shebang:
Once the oil is decently hot, throw the slices in, seasoned side down. Then, season the other side!! (This a culinary trick, don’t feel bad if you don’t get it right the first time.)
After about a minute, get your other pan ready. Melt some butter, and when the tomatoes are done on the first side, flip them. They should look like this. It’s OK if the oil is smoking, you’re almost done. (Whats not OK is if your fire alarm goes off. But I don’t have to worry about that here. They dont even have an ANSEL system….which I do worry about…)
While the tomatoes are cooking on the other side, drop the first half of the sandwich onto the melted butter. The tomatoes should be finishing up, so transfer them onto the still-open-faced sandwich. Now, here comes the really cool tricky part. The reason I had you use two pans, is so that you would have a really hot pan ready when you needed it. Once the tomatoes are on the open first half, put the other half on top, and put a small pat of butter on top of it. Spread it around a bit, and then take the other pan, from the tomatoes, and put in on top of the sandwich! This not only browns the top, but also has the added bonus of cooking the sandwich quicker and more evenly. I know I’m not the only one who hates a grilled cheese with a burned crust and unmelted cheese.
After about 30 seconds (this is a fast process), take the top pan off, flip the bread over, and put the pan back on top. 15-20 seconds later, you should have a perfect grilled cheese!
The side view:
I like mine cut diagonally.
Plate it up, and then it’s time for the photoshoot.