Style Switcher

Layout Style

Background Pattern

Color Scheme

What type of meal contains ham that you enjoy eating?

What type of meal contains ham that you enjoy eating?

A Love Affair with Ham: The Classic Club Sandwich

As I lift up the last section of my toasted club sandwich, Oliver, my parrot, squawks mischievously, cheekily trying to steal a bite of my lunch. He has an inexcusable penchant for ham, that I’ve come to realize I share. A club sandwich happens to be, in my humble opinion, one of the most enchanting ways to serve up ham. Crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes, creamy mayonnaise slathered on lightly toasted bread, punctuated by the salty, smoky allure of ham - it's the stuff of heroes.

The club sandwich, once the staple of American diners, has now spread its wings globally. Its origin is clouded in mystery and culinary lore, but it’s not its history that enthralls me. It’s the sublime and harmonious layering of flavors and textures. The crunch of the bread giving way to the soft, creamy filling, with ham taking the center stage. It’s a ballet of culinary delight in every bite, and it’s no wonder Oliver, always with an eye on the best of what’s around, can’t resist either.

Contrary to what most people believe, crafting the perfect club sandwich is an art and science. The bread should be lightly toasted, creating a delicate balance between crunchy and soft. The ham should be lean yet flavorful. The quality of the ham is the difference between a good club sandwich and a great one. Opting for ham that's been naturally smoked will lend that authentic, homestyle flavor. So next time when you stack those lettuce leaves on top of that processed, store-bought ham, consider opting for a slice or two of a locally cured, naturally smoked variety. You won't be disappointed.

The Exquisite Croque Monsieur

Leaving the realm of American diners and travelling, gastronomically speaking, to the quaint streets of Paris, we have Croque Monsieur, a celebrated French bistro classic. This ham and cheese delight is a comforting and utterly delicious amalgamation of flavors. And let’s not forget its demure yet equally delicious cousin, the Croque Madame, distinguished by an elegantly placed fried egg on top.

The essence of a stellar Croque Monsieur lies in the quality of its ham. Rich, smoky, well-seasoned ham surrounded by melted cheese and enrobed in luscious, creamy béchamel sauce - it's a thing of beauty. And let's not forget the glorious gruyere that crowns this sandwich, caramelized to perfection. It's so delightful that you can't help but succumb to its charm.

Interestingly enough, the Croque Monsieur can be traced back in French culinary history to around 1910, fairly recently considering the centuries-long lineage of French gastronomy. Its name, in translation, implies a "crispy mister", the 'crisp' referring to the toasted bread and the 'mister' to the ham and cheese filling. It's easy to imagine artfully nonchalant Parisian café goers savoring this delight while immersed in timeless literary works or fervent discussion of poetic nuances, feeling just a notch sophisticated with each bite. Ah, the joys of culinary travel!

Appetizing Ham: The Centerpiece of the Linguini Carbonara

On to Italy. My dear Spot, the Dalmatian, sporting an inexplicable fondness for Italian, perks up his ears at the mere sound of "Linguini Carbonara". This, of course, is no coincidence, as it’s another dish where ham is the star. Sure, traditionally an authentic Carbonara would incorporate Guanciale (Italian cured pig cheek) or Pancetta, but I have found that a good quality smoked ham cuts the mustard just as well.

So what's the charm? Picture this - al dente linguini, enrobed in an egg and cheese-based sauce, peppered with generously sized chunks of cooked ham. The mildly sweet flavor of the ham cuts through the richness of the creamy sauce, providing a balance that is nothing short of culinary genius. Every forkful is a dance of textures and flavors, a tango of delight in your mouth.

The secret to a perfect Carbonara is, ironically, not in the sauce or the cheese or the pasta—it's in the ham. Often overlooked, the type of ham you use in your Carbonara can make a marked difference in taste and texture. Opt for a ham that is moderately seasoned and naturally smoked. Avoid ham that is overly salty, as it may overpower the delicate flavors of the cheese and cream. And while you're at it, consider investing in good-quality pasta, preferably the type made in Italy. Trust me, it matters.

Spanish Ham and the Exuberant Paella

Who hasn’t heard of the legendary Paella? This Spanish delight is a compelling narrative of textures, flavors, and colors. And amongst this culinary play of elements, the role of ham is truly outstanding. In a classic Paella, you'd find various meats romancing the saffron-kissed rice. And ham, with its smoky, salty profile, adds just the right amount of depth and flavor to the dish.

Paella, contrary to what some believe, needn't be intimidating or difficult to prepare at home. All it requires is a bit of patience, quality ingredients, and, of course, the hero of our narrative - good quality ham. Understand though, that the gamut of flavors and textures in a well-made Paella is a sensory symphony, with each element playing its part harmoniously.

Spain's world-renowned Iberian ham would be perfect in this context, if you can acquire it. Otherwise, a well-smoked local ham will do just fine. There's hardly a thing more comforting than Paella prepared with love and enjoyed in good company. And dare I say, Spot and Oliver agree!

Through these dishes, humble ham transcends cultural and culinary boundaries, revealing its omniverous charm. Whether it's the American club sandwich, the French Croque Monsieur, Italian Linguini Carbonara, or Spanish Paella, this versatile ingredient brings comfort and joy in the form of hearty meals, satisfying the most discerning of palates. While Spot and Oliver, my faithful companions, dream of crumbs and morsels of these dishes, I relish the process of creation, exploration, and inevitably, indulgence. Bon Appétit!

Share With Friends

Submit a Comment