- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons minced leek
- 1 1/3 cups milk
- 1 small thyme sprig
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (1 1/4 cups)
- 2 ounces Taleggio cheese, rind removed and cheese cut into chunks
- 2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup finely chopped piquillo peppers or other roasted red peppers
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
- 8 large slices of country bread
- 4 ounces thinly sliced serrano ham or country ham
- 4 fried eggs, for serving
How to make this recipe
In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with the flour and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until bubbling, about 3 minutes. Add the leek and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk until a smooth sauce forms. Add the thyme sprig and nutmeg and cook, whisking, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Discard the thyme sprig. Remove from the heat and whisk in the Fontina, Taleggio and Parmigiano until melted.
Scrape 1/2 cup of the fonduta into a medium bowl and freeze just until no longer hot, about 10 minutes. Stir in the piquillo peppers, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, black pepper and cheddar.
Spread the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter onto 1 side of each bread slice. Lay the bread buttered side down on a work surface. Top half of the slices with the pimento cheese mixture and the ham. Close the sandwiches.
Preheat a griddle. Griddle the sandwiches over moderate heat, turning once, until the bread is golden and crisp and the cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes.
Rewarm the remaining fonduta. Transfer the grilled cheese sandwiches to plates and spoon the fonduta on top. Top with a fried egg and serve right away.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
This over-the-top ham sandwich is spicy and creamy and eggy. Serve it with a fruity, light-bodied red wine that can cut through all the richness, like a Beaujolais.