This is a wonderful late night snack that sometimes goes by the French moniker croque monsieur. Don't let the posh name put you off, it is really just a toasted sandwich (or jaffle, depending on from whence you came).
Lots of people ask me what I eat at home, being a chef and all, and I have to dispel their grand ideas of everyday banquets. I gotta eat in a rush sometimes like everyone else and that is when I make these sandwiches.
This is one of the most basic rules of cookery; if you are attempting a simple dish, the ingredients need to be of the highest quality. If you were to use sub par ingredients in a dish like this, it will sink into a soggy mire, but choose your staples carefully and this simple sandwich will transpire into an edible delight for one (or two, if you share).
4 slices best quality bread (try sourdough or Turkish Pide)
2 slices good quality ham, double smoked if possible
2 slices high quality cheese (if it was sold to you in plastic, try another recipe, I use Pyengana Cheddar from Tasmania, if you are in the UK try Quickes Farm Cheddar)
Freshly ground black pepper
In a heavy based frying pan (skillet) heat a large knob of butter until it is bubbling and smells good. Lay two slices of bread in the pan and top with the ham and cheese. Season and top with the remaining slices of bread. Set the pan on a gentle medium heat and cook until the cheese starts to melt. Remove the sandwiches from the pan. Add a little more butter and place the sandwiches back in the pan, uncooked side down. Continue cooking until the cheese is bubbling and the aroma is irresistible.
Of course, this sandwich can be made with loads of other ingredients, or even made vegetarian. Try oven dried tomatoes and basil, or whatever high quality ingredients you have to hand
Accompaniments. Try a super dry Riesling from Germany or the Clare Valley, or a Belgian ale. Movie. Has to be The Bicycle Thief. Bon Apetit!