It’s official. It’s getting cold here in Chicago. Though my friends, all of whom have lived here MUCH longer than I have, tell me the worst is yet to come. Of course, I am already shivering. For someone who has lived in cold climates (Massachusetts and Minnesota) her entire life it in no way makes me prepared for each coming winter. My teeth chatter just as much. My complaints are just as whiny.
Even my pooch Oliver who will normally brave just about any storm or inclimate weather for a little outdoor time seems to be adjusting slowly this year. He seems perfectly content to end his walks early and retreat to his favorite spot atop the comforter on my bed. (Or at least that’s what I tell myself to feel better about being the horrible dog mom who cannot take the cold.) He’s been curling up there like a cat lately, dozing the evenings away.
Accordingly, my food and beverage preferences have shifted. I’ve replaced my evening glasses of red wine with a steaming mug of tea. And if dinner can be baked, toasted, roasted, or stewed, all the better.
My current cold weather dinner of choice – my Glazed Sweet Potato, Ham and Brie Melt. I first got the idea for this sandwich after seeing a Ham & Yam Melt advertised at Cosi , a cafe chain that just so happens to have an outpost in the bottom of the building where I worked. I’ve been noticing posters for it at their shop almost daily for the past month and always remarked to myself that I should recreate it at home. This week I finally did.
My version starts with sweet potatoes, peeled, chopped and roasted in the oven. When they are tender I toss them in a Pomegranate-Honey Glaze made from a simple reduction of pomegranate juice, honey, Worcestershire Sauce and red pepper flakes. I love that the Worcestershire gives a savory kick to an otherwise sweet and sour sauce.
The sweet potatoes are then paired with Black Forest Ham and a little Brie before being tucked between two slices of bread. The sandwich can then either be toasted using a panini press or more simply in a skillet or frying pan. The result is a satisfying sandwich built from a mélange of flavors and textures. It’s a little bit sweet, a little bit savory. A little rich, and a little earthy. But however you describe it, it’s certainly delicious.
I made all the components especially for this sandwich, but you could also build it with holiday leftovers. I know many families have a ham and sweet potatoes for Christmas dinner and you could definitely reuse them here with great results. For a twist in flavor, you could also change up the cheese as well. I love this with Brie, but a nice creamy blue or some soft chevre would be equally appealing.
Glazed Sweet Potato, Ham and Brie Melt Serves 4
-1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
-1 cup pomegranate juice
-2 tablespoons honey
-1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
-8 slices bread (I used Nature’s Pride 100% Whole Wheat)
-8 ounces thinly sliced black forest ham
-4 ounces thinly sliced Brie
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and spread out sweet potato evenly. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
While sweet potatoes are baking, make the sweet potato glaze. Combine the pomegranate juice through red pepper flakes in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture is reduced to 1/4 cup and has a syrup-like consistency. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and add to glaze mixture. Stir well to coat.
Begin assembling sandwich by laying out four slices of bread. Top each with 1/4 of the sweet potato mixture followed by two ounces each of ham and one ounce each of Brie. Top with remaining slice of bread.
Lightly grease a panini press or frying pan with cooking spray. Grill each sandwich for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly golden and the cheese has melted. Serve immediate.