A ham and cheese sandwich is a sandwich with a filling of ham and some type of cheese. Numerous variations on this sandwich exist in different countries. Variations on the sandwiches' ingredients, including different varieties of ham, cheese or bread, can make one ham and cheese sandwich taste very different from another. Some are served hot, while others are grilled or toasted, giving them a very different flavor profile.
This sandwich is considered by many to be a classic American sandwich. Thin sliced, sometimes known as "deli-sliced," ham and cheese is piled onto a slice of bread which is then topped with another slice of bread. The type of ham used in such sandwiches varies and may depend on what the local deli or meat market has available. The type of cheese used also varies, though many favor Swiss cheese. Mustard or other condiments may also be added to the sandwich for flavor.
For some people, a ham and cheese sandwich tastes best when it is heated. There are several ways to heat a sandwich, including "grilling," in which a ham and cheese sandwich is placed on a buttered griddle or skillet until the bread slices are toasted and the cheese melts into the ham. An alternative to this preparation is to place the sandwich in a panini press and cook it that way. A toasted ham and cheese sandwich is a classic among British sandwiches and can often be found in pubs. In America, the Monte Cristo sandwich is a ham and cheese sandwich which coated in an egg wash and then placed in a deep fryer.
The French also have their own versions of the ham and cheese sandwich. The croque-monsieur is often prepared with gruyère cheese and may be covered with a rich sauce. A variation on the sandwich, the croque-madame, incorporates a fried egg, which is placed on top.
Cooks may experiment with the type of bread used in a ham and cheese sandwich, such as rye bread, an onion roll or even a croissant. Individuals who are concerned about carbohydrates or calories may opt for a ham and cheese wrap in which the sandwich fillings are wrapped in a tortilla and either served cold or hot. Some sandwich makers may experiment with adding an element of sweetness by spreading the bread with jam or add a savory note by drizzing salad dressing onto the fillings.