This is just about the best ham and cheese sandwich there is. Remember to use stale bread – preferably sourdough with a good structure – since it will perform much better in the press. For me, the addition of a little Calabrian chilli at the end is a flavour bonus, but that's entirely up to you. Enjoy!
loaf 1- to 2-day-old sourdough
350g gruyere, grated
8 slices quality leg ham
200g fontina, chopped into 1cm dice
2 fresh 125g mozzarella balls, chopped into 1cm dice
180g parmesan, grated
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Le Conserve della Nonna sliced hot chilli peppers, to serve (optional)*
1. Heat sandwich press to 200C and cut the loaf of bread into slices about 1½ centimetres thick.
2. Lay out 4 slices to build the sandwiches. Start with the gruyere, lay the ham on top, then mix the fontina and mozzarella together in a bowl before sprinkling over the ham. Top using half the parmesan, and season with sea salt and pepper (not too much, since there's already heaps of umami in this sandwich).
3. Put on the sandwich lids and press down gently. Now drizzle the top of the bread with olive oil, turn the sandwich over and do the same; it's the oil that will crisp the bread. Place in the sandwich press and cook until golden-brown and the cheese has melted (about 6 to 7 minutes).
4. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the top of the sandwiches and close the lid of the press again, cooking for a further minute until the parmesan browns and the crust is set.
5. Remove from press, cut in half and place on plates. Serve with Calabrian chilli on the side (I like to spread mine on top) – and tuck in. Be careful, though: the sandwich will be very hot!
*available at a good Italian deli
Find more of Neil Perry's recipes in the Good Food New Classics cookbook.