Grilled Ham and Cheese with Tangy Mustard Dip for Father’s Day
I love making some of my husband’s favorite recipes on Father’s Day to show him how special he is to us.
(I also love it when the rest of us happen to enjoy those recipes just as much as he does!)
This Grilled Ham and Cheese with Tangy Mustard Dip is the perfect example of that – it’s hearty enough to satisfy a Dad-sized appetite, and all of us agree it’s one of the best grilled sandwiches we’ve ever had.
Plus it’s fast and easy to make, thanks to the uncured, fully cooked and sliced ham I bought from Trader Joe’s (Get my Top 10 list of healthy convenience foods from Trader Joe’s!). In fact, this recipe isn’t just for Father’s Day – it’s now a permanent fixture on my list of fast and easy weeknight dinners that everyone loves!
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Secrets to Making the Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich
There are a few secrets to turning your basic cheese sandwich (or, in this case, ham and cheese) into the perfect grilled cheese sandwich:
1. Choose the right bread
Sourdough is the bread of choice at our house – I’m still refining my sourdough making skills so, in the mean time, I buy fresh baked loaves from a local bakery that I know follows traditional methods of lactofermenting their dough for maximum nutritional benefit.
Beyond that, the “thirsty” nature of traditional sourdough makes it the best bread for grilled cheese sandwiches – its porous surface soaks up the butter beautifully, giving your sandwich that perfect, buttery crisp when you bite into it.
2. Choose the right cheese
Using a cheese that melts well is key for grilled cheese success. Provolone, Swiss, Fontina, Jack, and Brie are all great options. Harder and drier cheeses will take longer to melt, which may lead to overcooking the bread while waiting for the cheese to melt.
3. Control the heat
I’ve found that starting at a little higher heat (medium) is what gives the bread that irresistible, buttery crisp. Once both sides of the sandwich have a golden crust, I turn the heat down a bit to allow the cheese to melt without burning the bread. The result? Perfect, buttery crisp on the outside and super soft, melted cheese on the inside.
4. Don’t skimp on the butter
You really just can’t have the perfect grilled cheese without a good amount of butter. It’s so much better to eat half a grilled cheese sandwich made the right way than to eat a whole one that skimps on the butter (or cheese) and leaves you wanting. (It’s a good thing butter is healthy!). Use pastured butter for the best nutrition and flavor.
5. Condiments, condiments, condiments.
The right condiments can be the difference between a really good sandwich and the perfect sandwich. The use of both Dijon mustard and my Tangy Honey Mustard Dip on this sandwich really knock it out of the park – either alone would be great, but together, they’re incredible! Don’t be afraid to experiment with strong flavors like these to contrast the mild flavors in your sandwich!
- Sourdough bread slices (2 per sandwich)
- Dijon Mustard
- Uncured cooked ham thickly sliced (enough slices for each sandwich to have 1 thick layer)
- Provolone cheese slices or other mild melting cheese (2 per sandwich)
- Pastured butter softened
- Tangy Honey Mustard Dip recipe below
- If using slices from large sourdough boule like I do, cut each in half for easy handling while cooking.
- Lay bread slices out on work surface. Spread dijon mustard on one side of every slice.
- Add a layer of ham to half the slices, then provolone (I used an entire slice provolone, cut in half then stacked on top of one another, for each sandwich I grilled).
- Top with another bread slice, mustard side down.
- Add butter to a skillet or griddle and begin heating over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, spread additional butter generously only onto the top surface of each prepared sandwich.
- When butter in the skillet has just begun to bubble, place sandwiches, buttered side up, into pan.
- Allow to cook, untouched, for 1-3 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy.
- Flip each over and allow the other side to brown.
- (I sometimes have to turn my heat down to medium-low at this point to allow plenty of time for the cheese to melt without burning the bread. Adding a little extra butter to the skillet, then swirling the sandwiches around the pan for even cooking also helps.)
- Cook sandwiches in batches if needed, adding additional butter to the pan along the way.
- Once all are cooked, serve immediately with Tangy Honey Mustard Dip.
Check out these other hearty recipes Dad will love!