Ham, Apple, Gruyere Panini

The story of the sandwich goes something like this —John Montagu, fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792), a British statesman and notorious gambler, invented this food so that he would not have to leave his gaming table to have supper.  While his motive isn’t exactly honorable, I’m super pleased by the end result.  I think the sandwich is an incredibly ingenious invention — all the food groups, as well as chocolate, can be incorporated in between two slices of bread, and voila, you’ve got instant deliciousness in a convenient little package.

In my never-ending quest to find unusual sandwiches, I stumbled onto this recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis, a Ham, Gruyère, and Apple Panini.  The Gruyère cheese is the thing that caught my eye on this one; I always have it in my refrigerator.  I love using it in frittata recipes and in grilled cheese.  It has a distinctive and slightly salty flavor but isn’t overpowering at all, plus it melts beautifully.  I like to think of Gruyère as Swiss cheese’s rich cousin.  It’s a bit more expensive but totally worth the price, but if you can’t find it, you can always use Swiss cheese.  Gray loves Gruyère it but he thinks it stinks when melting.  I have to agree with him on that one; it does have a pungent smell.

ham apple gruyere grilled cheese

Ham, Gruyère, and Apple Panini

1 teaspoon butter at room temperature
1/2 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 thick slices country-style white bread
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 ounces shredded Gruyère
2 slices Black Forest ham

In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apple slices and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are slightly soft, about 4 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes.Preheat a panini press. Spread each bread slice with mustard. Arrange cheese on a bread slice and top with 2 slices of ham. Place the apple mixture evenly on top of the ham. Top with other slice of bread. Grill in the panini press until the cheese has melted and the top is golden and crispy, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Long live the sandwich!