The beauty of this dish lies in the simplicity of its ingredients, and while they must be top-notch—ripe tomatoes, artisanal sheep’s milk cheese, and authentic serrano ham or prosciutto—what you use to cook the sandwiches can be either low-tech or high-tech. If you have a fancy panini grill, either stove top or electric, use it, following the manufacturer’s directions. If not, a stove-top griddle or grill pan and a cast-iron skillet to press the sandwiches will work just as well. Makes 4 sandwiches
8 slices sourdough French bread, ½ inch thick
8 thin slices serrano ham or prosciutto
8 slices ripe tomato, ¼ inch thick
4 thin slices sheep’s milk cheese such as P’tit Basque, Manchego, or Ossau-Iraty
Dijon mustard for spreading
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Lay 4 bread slices on a work surface. Top each slice with a slice of ham, 2 tomato slices, a slice of cheese, and another slice of ham. Spread the remaining bread slices on one side with mustard, and place, mustard side down, on top. Tuck in any overhanging portions of the filling so they won’t burn.
Brush the outsides of the bread with the olive oil. Preheat a stove-top griddle or ridged grill pan over medium-high heat. Place the sandwiches on the hot surface, top with a weight, and grill, turning once, for about 2 minutes on each side, or until both sides are golden brown and the cheese is softened.
To serve, cut the sandwiches in half.
Reprinted with permission from Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition by Gerald Hirigoyen with Lisa Weiss, copyright © 2009. Published by Ten Speed Press. Buy the book
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