My fridge is a cemetery of photoshoot and recipe testing leftovers. Sometimes there are useful things, like grilled salmon that becomes a last-minute dinner party entrée, with sesame oil mayonnaise and pea shoots. If you're patient and willing to play icebox Jenga, you can find bits and scraps that a more organized person would've thrown out...bits and scraps that this scrappy cook can reinvent as a delightful meal for two.
This sandwich is just such a construction of misplaced bits I found in the crisper drawer: thin slices of French ham, a hunk of good cheese, stray leeks, and leftover bread turn into a French bistro-worthy open-faced sandwich that's hearty and rich. Subtle leeks are sautéed along with shreds of ham until crisp and golden, then sprinkled on bread; I opted for croissant, but baguette or a slice of hearty sandwich bread will work just as well. A cheese sauce made with nutty, smoky artisanal New York cheddar is generously spooned over the ham mixture, then run under the broiler until bubbly and spotty brown. Fantastically fancy for such humble beginnings.
Ham, leeks, and a velvety layer of bubbly, broiled cheddar sauce: ham-and-cheese sandwich that's not so ho-hum.
- Yield:Makes 2 sandwiches
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:20 minutes
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium leeks, white parts thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 ounces French-style cooked ham, finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup warm milk
- 2 ounces grated aged white cheddar or gruyere cheese (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 large croissant or 1 (7-inch) piece baguette, split in half lengthwise
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add ham and continue cooking and stirring until ham begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plate.
Wipe out skillet. Melt remaining tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Stir in flour and coook, stirring constantly, until mixture just begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add about 1/4 cup of milki n a slow, steady stream while constantly stirring. Once incorporated, continue pouring in the remaining milk, stirring until fully incorporated. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and mustard until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and set to broil. Arrange bread pieces on baking sheet, cut-side up. Divide ham mixture evenly among them, then spoon sauce over. Broil until browned and bubbly, 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the broiler. Serve immediately.