The Joy of (Just Barely) Cooking: Ham, Chicken & Cheddar Panini with Apricot Mustard

August 19, 2009

ham panini

Photo: Muckster

I never do this—write a post immediately after eating dinner. I’m usually way too tired. And tonight was looking to be no exception. Well, except that I’m still thinking about dinner. Not only was it incredibly tasty and satisfying, but there’s something about the relationship between this meal’s deliciousness and ease that compels me to tell you about it. Right away.

For all of the yumminess that I churn out of my kitchen, it’s these quick meal inspirations that make me most giddy. They save me on even the most exhausting day. And while you can’t always keep from ordering take out, when you do, feeding your family feels like a joy no matter what ends up on the table. Especially when you are on the brink, as I was tonight.

Here’s how it went down:

I was ridonkulously tired and ready to pull out the delivery menus… until I noticed the chicken tenders that had been sitting in the fridge since Friday. It was time to use them, but I couldn’t bear the thought of cooking. Seriously. But then there was the food waste—the chicken would certainly need to be tossed, not to mention all that food delivery waste—and the fact that we’d chow on some lackluster, nutritionally challenged meal. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a time and a place for everything, but the dilemma weighed on me tonight.

Been there? I know Michelle has. And she relies on salads like these to get her through: Strawberry Arugula Walnut SaladWatermelon Arugula Feta Salad, and Pineapple Almond Spinach Salad. I, apparently, rely on sandwiches like Egg Salad made with Perfectly Hard Boiled Eggs and Old Bay Shrimp Salad on Buttered Hot Dog Rolls.

I knew this sammy had to start with chicken. So I seasoned the tenders and threw them on aluminum foil to broil (hello easy clean up). This was the most amount of cooking I could muster. But, alas, for all of my exhaustion, I couldn’t help thinking that plain chicken was boring. Into the fridge I dove and out came some organic deli ham. Black forest ham makes me feel french (don’t ask), which inspired me to reach for the Dijon mustard, which I decided to sweeten up with apricot jam. Phew. Done. No. Not done. What sammy is complete without cheese? Sliced deli cheddar was on hand. Now I was done… VOILA!

Going with the sandwich-for-dinner vibe, I served leftover veggies picnic style (a nice way of saying serve your own at room temp!). We noshed on corn sauteed with shallots, string beans stewed Greek Style, and roasted cherry tomatoes, so dinner turned out to be pretty well-rounded. Not that a lack of veggies would have stopped me. This sandwich was satisfying on it’s own, a snap to make, and made me feel the joy of cooking. Take that pepperoni pizza.

Ham, Chicken, and Cheddar Panini with Apricot Mustard
(can be served to kids 12+ mos)

1 lb organic chicken tenders
3 tbsp organic olive oil
2 tbsp organic grainy dijon mustard, plus more for spreading on sandwiches
organic focaccia, sliced pullman, or other bread good for grilled sandwiches
organic apricot jam
organic sliced black forest ham
organic sliced cheddar

1. Whip together olive oil and 2 tbsp mustard. Arrange chicken tenders in one layer on broiler safe cookie sheet. Brush 1/2-3/4 of  oil/mustard mixture on top side of tenders. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until cooked most of the way through. Flip tenders over, brush with remaining oil/mustard mixture. Finish cooking in the broiler.

2. In the meantime, heat your panini grill or heat a little bit of olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Compose your sandwiches: spread jam and mustard on bread (if you have the energy, you can whisk the mustard and jam together ahead of time, but I say it’s not worth the time!), layer ham, chicken, and cheese. Press the sandwiches (if using a skillet, try this using the lid of smaller pan) and cook until the cheese melts and meat is heated through.

One Response

  1. […] tools when my kitchen storage is already jam packed with stuff I barely use (like my handy-dandy panini press which makes yummy sandwiches like this Ham, Chicken & Cheddar Panini with Apricot Mustard). The […]

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