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Author Notes: One of the many reasons I love the holidays is the variety of baked goods in all the bakeries around town, challah being one of my favorites. It's no secret that the eggy-malty bread makes amazing french toast. Treat the french toast like a grilled cheese with swiss or gruyere and top with maple-candied country ham and you've got yourself a winner for any holiday breakfast or brunch! Note: country ham is a super-salty, hard cured ham from the southeast. If you don't have access to country ham, you can substitute bacon, 1x1. To serve to a crowd, simply double or triple the recipe. —Mary Catherine Tee
For the Maple-Candied Country Ham
- 1/2 pound country ham chips or thick-cut bacon
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/8 cup high-quality maple syrup
- Cut county ham chips into roughly 1 inch pieces. Cook over medium-high heat, flipping occasionally until the outside is browned but not burned. If using bacon, cut into one inch pieces and brown over medium heat, flipping occasionally until crisp and brown. Reduce heat to medium. Drain oil. Return pan to burner.
- Add sugar and maple syrup, stirring the meat to coat. Let cook over medium heat, stirring every few seconds or so, until the sugar-maple mixture caramelizes and thickens, about 3 minutes, depending upon your 'char' preference. Once maple-meat mixture is browned and gooey, set aside.
For the Challah French Toast Sandwich
- 8 slices of challah, 3/4 inch thick
- 8 large eggs
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinches salt
- 8 slices of high-quality swiss cheese or 8 ounces shredded gruyere
- 2+ tablespoons salted butter
- In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt until well-combined. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Melt 1 Tbsp. of butter, reserving the other 1/2.
- If challah is over 6 inches in length, cut each piece in half (I found long pieces tough to work with). Working in batches, drop in 4 pieces of challah to egg mixture. Let sit for 1-2 minutes. Turn and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Place the bread in the heated skillet and cook until the bottom is browned and egg cooked through, about 3 minutes. turn. Add 1 slice of swiss cheese OR 1 ounce of shredded gruyere to the cooked top of each piece of bread. The cheese will melt while the other side cooks, for about 3 minutes.
- Melt remaining butter and repeat previous step with remaining challah.
- When ready to serve, dust sandwich with powdered sugar or cinnamon (optional). Top with the candied ham/bacon. Serve with warmed maple syrup.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Festive, Crowd-Feeding Breakfast Test This Recipe