There is just nothing more I can say about this that doesn't come to mind when you read the title. I adore the taste of apple, cheese and any smoked meat, and this hits the spot.
With apple season in full picking mode right now here in New England, grab whatever apple trips your trigger. I have always adored the soft, sweet flavor of Macintosh apples in this grilled cheese but Cortland and Empire work just as well.
Colby cheese is probably the best cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches as well. It is smooth, melts extremely well and it helps to counter the "bite" of Parmesan cheese without diminishing the tart flavor.
Smoky Apple Grilled Cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon minced cucumber
8 slices Italian bread
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened,
1/2 pound thinly sliced smoked ham
1 apple, cored, peeled and sliced thinly
1 cup arugula
4 thin slices red onion
2-4 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese
2-4 ounces sliced Colby
Sliced cucumbers, if desired
In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic powder and minced cucumber well. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to use. Spread the mayo mixture on one side of 4 slices of Italian bread. Butter the other side and place in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ham, apple, onion, arugula and shredded cheese. Top with another slice of bread that has been spread with the mayo mixture. Butter the tops and cook 3-4 minutes per side, or until dark browned and cheese has melted. If needed, lower the heat to medium-low and cook a longer period of time to ensure the ham is heated and the cheese has melted. This sandwich is also great grilled on an outdoor grill as well. Served with sliced cucumbers if desired.
Chef Jim Baley -- The Yankee Chef -- is a noted food columnist, cookbook author and the foremost New England Food Historian. He is a third generation chef and historian and lives in Maine with his wife and four children. He welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.