The duo of ham and cheese makes regular appearances during lunch in numerous parts of the world. In Spain, the ham and cheese croquette is a mash-up of Manchego and Serrano. Here in the States, it's traditionally the lunchbox staple of deli ham, American cheese, and mayo on soft white bread. And in France, it's a baguette, layered with thinly sliced ham, Gruyère cheese, and cornichons.
Given that this is a very French ham and cheese baguette, there's a bit more nuance to be accounted for. The baguette is swiped with butter, which lends flavor but also prevents this sandwich from ever going mushy. Dijon mustard, along with briny, thinly sliced cornichons, helps cut through some of the richness of the cheese and ham.
The ham, in particular, is where you can really ensure you're going for the full French. If you can find thinly sliced French ham, often labeled, jambon de Paris, you will have succeeded in making this very French indeed. However, in the absence of unsmoked, thinly shaved jambon be Paris, thinly sliced unsmoked deli ham, whether labeled French or not, will still result in a sandwich that is très délicieux.
A Very French Ham and Cheese Baguette
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
8 ounces unsmoked and very thinly sliced deli ham
8 ounces very thinly sliced Gruyère cheese
Halve the baguette lengthwise. Spread one cut side with the butter, and the other cut side with the mustard. Layer the ham, cheese, and cornichons on the bottom half of the baguette. Close the sandwich with the top half of the baguette and press down lightly. Cut crosswise into 4 equal portions, each about 6 inches in length. Serve immediately.
- Ham: Look for jambon de Paris, an unsmoked, very thinly sliced style of deli ham or any type of unsmoked, thinly sliced ham for this sandwich.
- Make ahead: Prepare the sandwich, cover very tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Let come to room temperature before serving.