After hosting Easter brunch this past weekend I was a little off my game. I made a simple grilled cheese sandwich for Riley's lunch today and burned it on one side. Things just didn't flow the way they normally do. I'm chalking it up to peeling too many eggs for my miso deviled eggs. It takes a toll on a person. I'm going to take it easy for a couple of days before delving back into serious cooking, most likely taking advantage of the days and days of leftover ham and cheesy hashbrowns we have in the refrigerator.
My favorite way to use leftover ham (or turkey, or chicken, or anything else that makes even a little sense between two slices of bread) is a grilled cheese sandwich. Is there anything more classically comforting than a grilled ham & cheese sandwich? You just can't go wrong. Perfectly toasted, buttery bread surrounding gooey cheese, salty ham, and a smear of spicy Sriracha ailoi studded with lime zest. That is what's happening here. And it is amazing.
Let's talk about the aioli for a minute. I almost didn't call it aioli because it's not made in a traditional way. Instead, I made a healthier version with Greek yogurt. I found that at least a little mayonnaise was necessary to achieve that creaminess aioli is known for, but generally 2% or full-fat Greek yogurt makes an excellent substitute. Aioli is also typically made with a heavy hand of garlic, but since Sriracha is already so full of garlic flavor I decided not to add extra. In place of lemon juice? Lime zest. So, for those purists out there, I do realize this is not traditional aioli but we're just going to call it that for now.
Grilled Ham & Cheese + Sriracha Aioli
- 2 slices white or wheat bread
- 2 slices sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 slices smoked ham
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha-lime aioli
- 1/3 cup 2% or full-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
- Zest of 1 lime
- Begin by heating a cast iron or another heavy pan over medium low heat. I like cast iron because of the even heat and the picture perfect crust that forms on the outside of the bread.
- While the pan is heating, spread 1 tablespoon of the butter on one side of each slice of bread making sure the butter reaches all the way to the very edge.
- Melt the remaining butter in the heated pan and, once it has melted, place one slice of bread, buttered side down, in the pan and spoon 1 tablespoon of the Sriracha-Lime Aioli onto the non-buttered side.
- Place a layer of cheese on the bread, followed by a layer of ham, and another layer of cheese.
- Spread the remaining Sriracha-Lime Aioli on the remaining slice of bread (on the side without butter) and place on top of the sandwich. Press down on the sandwich slightly.
- Allow the sandwich to cook for about 5 minutes per side, watching the heat carefully and adjusting as necessary.
- Once the cheese is nicely melted and the bread is a deep golden color (mine looks especially dark because I used whole wheat bread) transfer it to a cutting board and let it sit for 2-3 minutes before cutting in half. Are you a triangles kind of person or a rectangles kind of person? I went with triangles.