Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fancy Ham and Cheese By Any Other Name Would Still Rock

I adore croque madames. They’re not a particularly complicated sandwich― although it can be argued that something that needs to be eaten with a fork and knife is not quite a sandwich, exactly― but the combination of ham, cheese and egg elevates the whole shebang to a sum much, much greater than its parts, and, for those of you thinking about Egg McMuffins, this is different, and much better (and, okay, kind of snottier, given the French name and the very particular types of ham and cheese, but you'll get over that in a hurry once you eat one). Several restaurants in Seattle serve respectably delicious versions.But until last night, I’d never, ever made one. It never occurred to me. Who knows why. It's probably the same thinking process that allows me to put something under the broiler and forget about it until the kitchen is swirling with choking clouds of black smoke.

I make all manner of sandwiches these days. Mondays have become Sandwich Night for us. It’s so suburban clichéd to have Sandwich Night (next up: Fish Stix Night!). But I am, right now, perfectly happy living a suburban cliché (I'm in the PTA and we have a bloody station wagon; declaring myself a hipster would be a tough sell to anyone but maybe Curly, who is incredibly gullible. And even she might cock an eyebrow if I tried that on), which is good, since that's what I've got.

Anyway. On Mondays, my boy has hockey practice and often has to leave mid-dinner, even if it’s served crazy early, to make it there on time. So I’ve taken to making dinners that can be carried out and finished in the car.

And so, Mondays are Sandwich Nights.

We’ve gone through all manner of sandwiches: Ina Garten’s take on a chicken Caesar sandwich (topped with bacon and slathered with an anchovy-lemon mayo so that it is drippingly irresistible), a cheesesteak attempt, variations on fancy grilled cheese, thin breaded chicken breasts hot in the sandwich with a lemony mayo (and arugula for the grown-ups), and on. But somehow, until my boy suggested it, no croque madames.

I substituted prosciutto for regular ham, because I can rarely get enough of prosciutto or serrano. And I cooked the yolks on the firm-ish side and tucked the eggs into, rather than on top of, the sandwiches (my boy and whoever’s driving him have got to be able to walk out with theirs).
Overall? I have no idea what I waited so long for. We may do a repeat on the next sandwich night to, um... perfect my technique?

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