This recipe was the What’s For Dinner Tonight feature on the Everyday Food app one day a couple of months ago, and I was immediately intrigued by the flavor combo. It sounded a lot like a chicken cordon bleu melt, but open-faced and with the addition of apricot preserves. I always have apricot preserves on hand because Andrew and I love them on toast, and most of the other ingredients are staples in our house, so I thought this would be a quick and easy choice for a weeknight dinner.
Of course, I managed to screw up the two ingredients I did need to pick up at the store -- a baguette and sharp white cheddar cheese. For some reason I grabbed a loaf of French bread, which was way too small for the melts, and I picked up yellow cheddar by mistake. The cheese mix-up especially irritates me, because I got the really expensive stuff, when yellow cheddar is readily available in cheaper varieties and white cheddar is not. I am such an airhead sometimes.
Anyway, I had to adapt the recipe quite extensively. I decided to make regular old melts on white bread, and I just used the yellow cheddar cheese. I also scrapped the chicken marinade you’ll see in the original recipe (I’ve linked to it) in favor of just seasoning the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and pan-frying it quickly.
Even though I changed the original recipe a lot, we really enjoyed the end result. I wish I'd pounded the chicken thinner and used a thicker bread, but those are minor quibbles. I loved the sweet apricot preserves paired with the salty ham and sharp cheese; it was a really great flavor profile. I served these with a simple spinach salad, and this actually did turn out to be a quick and delicious weeknight dinner -- even if the end product didn’t look all that much like I thought it would.
Apricot and Cheddar Chicken and Ham Melts
source: extensively adapted from Everyday Food
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded thin
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
4 slices buttered white bread
1/4 cup apricot preserves
4 ounces thinly-sliced deli ham
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1. Season chicken liberally with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pan-fry over medium-high heat in olive oil until browned and cooked through; set aside.
2. Dividing evenly, spread 2 slices of bread with apricot preserves, and layer with chicken, ham and cheese. Top with another slice of bread. Cook in a skillet or on a griddle until bread is browned and crispy. Slice sandwiches in half and serve.