Grilled Ham, Onion and Cheddar Sandwiches Recipe

What’s not to love about grilled cheese sandwiches? Gooey cheese and savory ham cozied between slices of toasty bread—yum. It’s not a new idea, of course, but like how sandwiches at restaurants often seem better than those made at home, the secret is in the little extras that elevate the everyday to something a little different.

What makes this version special are the sweet onions and the kind of cheese you use, notes cookbook author and meat guru Bruce Aidells, who contributed this take on the sandwich to Real Food. He prefers to use a really sharp cheddar such as the varieties that come from Ireland or England. If you can’t find that, then buy the best extra sharp you can find. And if cheddar isn’t your thing, use Swiss or a good quality Italian Fontina.

These sandwiches make great use of leftover Easter ham or would be good anytime with deli-sliced ham. Aidells suggests serving the sandwiches with bread and butter pickles and a side of homemade potato salad.

Grilled Ham, Onion and Cheddar Sandwiches

Makes 4 Servings

2 tablespoons olive oil or bacon fat
2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Dijon mustard
8 slices Jewish-style rye bread
1 pound thinly sliced leftover ham
6 or more slices extra-sharp cheddar or other cheese of your choice
4 tablespoons butter, softened

1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until the onion just begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. To make each sandwich, spread mustard on 2 slices of bread. Divide the sliced ham into 4 portions and lay half of each portion over the mustard-slathered bread. Cover one side with cheese and the other with some of the onion. Press the two sides together. Spread both exterior sides of each sandwich with the butter.

3. Heat a 12-inch heavy non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Lay in 2 sandwiches and cover the pan. Heat until nicely golden. Flip and grill the other side until golden and the cheese is melted. Repeat with the remaining 2 sandwiches.

Nutrition info (per serving): Calories 701 (57 From Fat); Fat 45g (Sat. 21g); Chol 142mg; Sodium 2641mg; Carb 31g; Fiber 4g; Protein 42g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.