I’m currently reporting to you on the CTA Red Train Line (public transportation for all you non-Chicago folk) even though I own a car. Why am I taking the train home from work instead of driving my car? Excellent question…I’ll tell you. It’s because a mega snow storm just shot through town and I’m afraid to move my car from the spot I shoveled out across the street from my house….I’m afraid I’ll never find another parking space again!!!! See, like a doofus, I drove to work yesterday and got stuck in a snow bank near my office, about 10 feet from where I was going to park. I struggled by myself for a bit, trying to get my car unstuck, but eventually, a nice man came to my rescue and together we freed my car from the snow bank’s grasp, but I ended up being 20 minutes late to work. Balls.
So anyway, I didn’t feel like dealing with snowy roads and impossible parking, so I took public transportation (2 train lines and 1 bus) to get to work today.
As I’m ending my work day, I took a phone call right before I had to leave to catch my bus. I ended up being able to help the kind lady on the phone, but I missed my bus because of it. I checked my CTA tracker (this nifty app that gives you train and bus arrival times) and found out the next bus wasn’t due for another 1/2 hour. I’m a trooper in a LOT of cases, but waiting a 1/2 hour, in the freezing cold, for a bus, isn’t one of those cases. I had to catch this bus, to take me to the Red Line train station. Google maps told me I could walk to the train station within 24 minutes, which is obviously shorter than waiting a 1/2 hour for the bus. So I decided to trek it in the snow, and walk to the train.
Now, Chicago does a pretty good job plowing the roads, but we got SO much snow, Chicago’s snow removal fleet couldn’t keep up. The roads are still pretty bad but the sidewalks are even worse. You forget how difficult it is to walk on an un-shoveled sidewalk. Oh man, I was miserable. It was really hard to trudge through the snowy sidewalks, and I was freezing.
Then it happened… I crossed the Chicago River on the Cermak Bridge and looked to my right, and there it was, the Chicago Skyline starring me in the face. I’ve seen Chicago’s Skyline a million times but the stark beauty of it STILL catches me off guard. Being faced with such immense beauty really lifted my spirits. Suddenly I was flooded with memories of the last 12 years of living in Chicago. A slow smile crept along my face as I took in the gleaming skyscrapers and suddenly I didn’t feel so cold. Suddenly walking to the train wasn’t as cumbersome. Suddenly I was filled with joy and warmth.
Thank you Chicago, you get me in the feelers every time. 😀
So, let’s talk about food. Hot Ham and Cheese sandwiches are, without a doubt, the most magical sandwiches in all food land. I have vivid memories of eating hot ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch in grade school, heck it was my favorite day of the week at school.
Making a hot ham and cheese sandwich is the easiest thing in the world, however, my tastes have grown up so I wanted to add a few fancy “hot ham and cheese” bells and whistles to bulk up the flavor.
What’s better than making a hot ham and cheese sandwich?? Topping said ham and cheese sandwich with bacon and caramelized onions. I mean, topping ANYTHING with bacon makes it better. I know many (if not all) of you reading can feel me but topping this sandwich with bacon AND caramelized onions is the SHIT!
A lot of people eat hot ham and cheese sandwiches with Swiss cheese, but for whatever reason, I don’t care for Swiss. I’ll eat a Swiss, onion, and mushroom burger from time to time, but Swiss cheese is a food I’ve never particularly sought after.
So I opted to use a mild Provolone cheese which worked wonderfully. Hell, I bet mozzarella cheese would be outstanding on this sandwich too! But if you prefer Swiss, by all means, get your Swiss cheese on. I ain’t gonna judge.
I say a lot of ingredients are optional in this recipe because really, just ham, cheese, and buttered bread are all you need for a delicious ham and cheese sandwich.
And I’ll level with you, I MEANT to make ham and cheese sandwiches, but I mistakenly purchased dinner rolls instead. So my ham and cheese sandwich instantly turned into ham and cheese sliders! So what if Kieran and I had a bunch of little sandwiches leftover from lunch…we individually wrapped them in plastic wrap and have been taking them to work with us during the week.
I almost feel like a little kid again eating hot ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch and I Love. Every. Single. Bite. Of. Them.
Ugh, the above picture is my least favorite in the group. Kieran doesn’t mind, but the bacon in this shot drives me NUTS! The bacon looks like it’s rolled up into a ball, on one side of the sandwich. It’s all I can focus on!!! I tried to find a better picture, but for this particular shot, ALL of the bacon looked wonky.
Let that be a lesson to all you up and coming food bloggers out there, double check to ensure nothing in your photos look cray cray.
But even though I’m not fond of the above picture, I give it homage because the sandwich tastes So. Damn. Good.
- 1 lb deli ham, thinly sliced (I bought ham without nitrates or nitrites)
- 1 package bacon (I bought bacon without nitrates or nitrites)
- 1 medium-sized onion, sliced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ - 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ½ lb mild provolone (or your favorite white cheese like swiss), sliced
- 1 package sweet dinner rolls, cut in half if they are not already pre-cut (I used Kings Hawaiian)
- Honey, for drizzling (optional)
- Cook the bacon in the oven or in a skillet until cooked. I opted to not cook my bacon too crispy because it cooks twice in this recipe. Once the bacon was almost crispy, I pulled it from my oven.
- Let the bacon drain on a paper towel.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or 2 additional tablespoons of butter), over medium-high heat. Toss in your onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and sweet. This takes approx 30 minutes. Note, roughly 10 minutes before the onions are done, add the garlic and stir until ingredients are well combined.
- While your onions are cooking, preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
- When your onions are golden brown and caramelized, add the 2 tablespoons of butter, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and mustard. Stir everything around and taste...add as much of those ingredients as you like. Continue to cook the onions for a few extra minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.
- Line a cookie sheet with tin foil, and spray it with cooking spray.
- Now line the dinner rolls in rows, trying to ensure they don't touch each other.
- Top the bottom half of the dinner roll with ham, bacon, cooked onion, then cheese. Top each slider with the top half of the dinner roll. If you're using the honey, drizzle on top of half, or all, of the sliders, whatever you're in the mood for.
- Lightly spray the top of the sliders with cooking spray.
- Loosely cover the cookie sheet with more tin foil, and pop your sliders in the oven.
- Bake the sandwiches at 250 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
- Take the sliders out of the oven and carefully lift off the tin foil.
- Now start munching on some magnificent sliders!
I think the sweetness of the honey adds balance to the sandwiches, but if honey isn't your thing, don't add it. That's why I recommend drizzling only some of the sliders with honey before you bake them, so you can taste and figure out what you like better.
You can totally use regular sandwich rolls instead of sliders if you want. I actually was GOING to make regular sandwiches, but bought dinner rolls instead of sandwich bread. So I had to switch gears and improvised...they still tasted amazing!
Whether you make larger sandwiches or little sliders, wrap any leftover sandwich individually in plastic wrap, ESPECIALLY if you're using sweet bread like Kings Hawaiian, otherwise the sandwiches will stick to each other.