Apricot, Ham, Cheddar, and Chicken Sandwich

I cannot remember when I started making this open-faced sandwich but it was an immediate favorite in this house. It seems odd at first, but it really works when you think about all the flavors mixed together. A little tart from the vinegar, some mustard, apricot jam for sweetness, then ham (pork is never bad in any form) and a sharp cheddar. It is a very special combination. And heats up well as a left over in the oven – or in my case in the toaster oven at the office – work lunch hack – woo hoo. If I can get it – usually the MotH and the Boy do not let me get much in the way of leftovers. But I guess that just means they like it  – a lot. And so do I.

D&D_21211/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 French bread, split horizontally, then cut in a half
1/4 cup apricot preserves – way more than that.
1/3 pound thinly sliced tavern ham, yes, specify tavern ham – I’ve tried others and this is the best.
1/2 pound sharp cheddar, deli sliced

Between two pieces of plastic wrap or inside a gallon plastic zip-top bag, pound the chicken slightly until it is more even. It does not need to be super thin, just a little more even. Makes for easier (quicker) marinade and more even cooking. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a resealable plastic bag, add vinegar, mustard, and chicken. I don’t even measure at this point any more. Once you do this enough, and once you taste it you will, you will get the hang of it.  You can also add a mashed garlic clove, but I have given up on that little bit trouble – not necessary in the taste department, to us anyway. Let marinade several hours or over night in the refrigerator. Over night is best, but not much longer than that.

Heat broiler on low and line a baking sheet with foil. Remove chicken from marinade (discard marinade) and place on the baking sheet, broil,  turning at least once until opaque throughout. Check by cutting into chicken to see if it cooked through. Transfer chicken to work surface and discard foil. Reline the baking sheet with new foil.

Place baguette on baking sheet, cut side up (duh). Spread each piece with apricot preserves, layer with chicken, ham and cheese. Broil until cheese is melted.

Source: Martha Stewart with my modifications.

Reuben Casserole

D&D_9480

Reuben Casserole

It’s March (totally late posting this – ugh. It is now early May – how does this happen?) which means I’m thinking about the end of casserole season (true) at least for here in the North West Florida Gulf Coast. It’s already starting to get in the 70’s during the day (now in the 80’s). One of my favorite casseroles is a Reuben casserole – all the flavor of a Reuben, but the ease of a casserole and, better still, leftovers! Excellent.
I started making this years ago, and I’ve modified it and scaled it down for the two of us (the Boy is not a fan – I think I didn’t raise him right. He also does not like collards, or boiled peanuts – yes, I’m a disappointment as a southern cook – or mom). I’ve taken some tricks from Cook’s Country’s recipe from their “Best Reuben Sandwich” especially their version of the traditionally-used Thousand Island dressing. I mean why buy bottled stuff (ugh) when you can make your own version with things you have on hand – mayo, chili sauce or cocktail sauce, and relish.
This is a pretty quick and easy meal and this time of year (March) you can bet corned beef and Guinness are on sale. The Guinness is for drinking (mostly!), Brownies, and Chocolate Cake – in that order.

3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbs chili sauce
2 Tbs sweet relish
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbs minced (or grated) onion
6 slices of rye, cubed (seeds or no – I go for no)
8 ozs sauerkraut, drained (recommended: Boar’s Head)
3/4 pound corned beef, cubed
2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
4 Tbs butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8 x 8″ ( 9 x 9″ whatever you have) with non-stick spray.
In a bowl, mix together mayonnaise, chili sauce, relish, sour cream, and onion.
Arrange rye cubes in the bottom of the pan reserving 1/4 cup of cubes for topping. Layer on sauerkraut and corned beef. Spread with dressing mixture over the corned beef. Sprinkle with cheese, top with remaining rye, and drizzle with butter.
Cover with foil, and bake 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes until bubbly and lightly brown.