Salute to a Pioneer

A long time ago my sister [N] laughingly related an instance when we were both in high school.  She and a friend of hers were sitting in the cafeteria at lunch time when the friend pulled a sandwich out from her lunch bag and grimaced.  Her mom had packed her a ham and cheese on raisin bread.  Raisin bread!  The friend rolled her eyes, and my sister chuckled at the ridiculousness of a ham and cheese sandwich on raisin bread.  Clearly this mom was out of touch.  Who would eat a concoction like that?

Skip ahead *ahem* fifteen some odd years and N was telling me of the delicious grilled cheese sandwich that she ate at ‘wichcraft, Tom Colicchio’s sandwich shop.   Cheddar, ham and pear on cranberry pecan bread.  I recalled her story from long ago and couldn’t help but think that this friend’s mom had not been crazy, but rather a visionary gourmet!  Thus I say:  Hail Mrs. Pandya!  I salute you, after all these years, as a sandwich pioneer!

Here’s the recipe that N and I recreated from ‘wichcraft.

HCP (Ham, Cheddar and Pear) SANDWICH

4 slices of Cranberry Pecan bread [found at the Corrado Bakery store in Grand Central Market]
5 slices of honey ham
4 slices of Sharp cheddar cheese
Dijon mustard (Pardon me, could you pass the Grey Poupon)
Whole grain mustard (I used Inglhoffer’s original stone ground mustard)
½ a very ripe pear (I had yummy Harry & David Comice pears on hand from a holiday gift basket)
Olive oil or butter

  1. Spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard on 2 slices of the bread.  (Not too thin.  With all the sweetness in this sandwich you definitely want to taste the acidic bite of the mustard)
  2. Layer 2 slices of cheese and 2 ½ slices of ham on top.
  3. Slice the half pear into flat pieces and place slices on top of the ham & cheese.
  4. Spread a thin layer of the whole grain mustard on the other 2 slices of bread and top to assemble the sandwich.
  5. Gently heat a small amount of olive oil or butter in a pan.  I use about a ½ teaspoon of olive oil.
  6. Place your sandwich in the pan and grill until golden brown, flipping it over once to toast the other side.  Press down with a spatula as it toasts – if you have a Panini grill, that would work perfectly, too.

Serve while warm.  Makes 2 sandwiches.

N and I tried this sandwich using regular whole wheat bread.  We then tried it with the Cranberry Pecan bread.  I cannot begin to tell you how amazingly different they are.  The sweet cranberries and toasty pecans add so very much more depth to this sandwich that it was astounding.    I’m also sure you could use different cheeses, and pears.  Ooh, apples would be good too.  Enjoy!