Monday, September 24, 2012

Waffle Iron Grilled Ham and Cheese

When I was growing up weekends meant big family breakfast on Saturday. And Breakfast on Saturday meant Pancakes or Waffles. For years my mother and grandmother carried on this tradition. We had a waffle iron older than my mother I think and it pumped out some amazing waffles meals. I mean who didn't love getting up in the morning on the weekend when you had no school and or work and having a great breakfast with all the accompaniments.

So the other day I went out to brunch and I had a great sandwich. We tried this new French place on 7th Ave. The sandwich was a Croque Madame. It was amazing! So buttery and crunchy and crispy. It was awash in bechamel sauce and it was so yummy! I was immediately inspired!

But what do waffles and a croque Madame have in common. Well the answer is not exactly clear but I will try to explain.

As I have said before one of my summer jobs that left a culinary impression on me was my time spent at the Magic Pan. Now the Magic Pan for those of you who have not been following my blog was a chain in the 70's and 80's that had as it's main focus crepes and such. But was also known for a particular Sandwich, the Monte Christo.

Now there are sandwiches and there are sandwiches, but this was a SANDWICH! Let me explain. The Monte Christo as a sandwich is a turkey, ham and swiss cheese sandwich prepped on white bread. It is generally dipped in a egg batter like french toast and grilled. Well that was fine for most Monte Christo's but the Magic Pan had to do one better. So they not only put it together on texas toast but they deep fried it after it was dipped in an egg batter. The resulting sandwich was the stuff of legends, cause everyone loved that sandwich! I mean there are still people including my friend Fred Tessler of the Denver Tesslers, that proclaim it as the absolute best sandwich they ever had!

I mean the Pan made a lot of excellent foods and it was really the first place that many Americans came into contact with the foods Julia Child had been talking about on her TV. show all those years. Now granted it was somewhat americanized but that not withstanding the Pan really did inspire and educate people about foods they otherwise would have missed out on.

So that brings us up to speed. Now believe it or not I am in possession of the rare copy of the Magic Pan's kitchen handbook with all the recipes. So I can tell you exactly what went into the Monte Christo.  But It really was pretty much the sandwich I described earlier just deep fried. Today though I am not in the mood nor do I have the room and ventilation to fry a sandwich. However I did think up a great idea for cooking sandwiches a special way and that is on the waffle iron. My roommates in college did this a couple of times with plain grilled cheese but the idea never stuck till now. The French toasty sandwich gets pressed in the waffle iron instead of a panini press. Its a fun way to make your brunch at the table while people are snacking on nibbles before the main meal.

So I came up with many versions of the sandwich that would be really fun to make on the waffle iron. These are super simple to make and what is really fun is you just need to give people various ingredients and they can make their own "Sammy"

For my version you need the following

8 pieces of white toasting bread, can be Texas Toast bread if you want.
4 slices of Ham
4 slices of turkey
8 slices of swiss cheese
either homemade bechamel sauce cooled down to a thick paste or mayo
Melted butter
4 eggs mixed well with 1/4 cup of half and half 5 Tbls, flour and a pinch of salt

Layer the ham turkey and cheese
slather the bread with a tablespoon of bechamel or Mayo
a twist of nutmeg
a twist of black pepper
make a sandwich and secure with a toothpick or two
dip into the batter quickly on both sides and place on a lined tray
Place in the fridge for 30 mins at least
Heat waffle iron
When hot, take the sandwiches and brush with the melted butter and press then gently in the waffle iron. if you have large one you can do up to 4 at a time. Grill till golden.
Serve warm with dijon mustard and  raspberry preserves. Enjoy

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