Though it might sound like a nod to women’s swimwear, the bikini sandwich has nothing to do with sandy beaches. It’s a Barcelona classic—a simple pressed ham and cheese that makes the perfect late night or early morning meal. This version of the bikini sandwich (named after the Bikini concert hall in Barcelona) was originally a tongue-in-cheek response to a challenge from Fred Castellucci, the owner of our Atlanta-based restaurant Cooks & Soldiers, to recreate the dish he had during an early trip to Barcelona, Spain.
Our version (which we internally dubbed the “hood-rat grilled cheese”) is a playful juxtaposition, a combination of some of the world’s cheapest and most expensive ingredients all slammed together into a unnervingly unctuous little mouthful. Duke’s mayonnaise, white bread, white American cheese, fresh black truffle, and jamón ibérico, all collected in a single bite. For our new, over-the-top take on the classic croque madame, this crispy little mistress is topped with broiled Manchego cheese, Manchego Mornay sauce, and a fried egg. This version has quickly become an off-menu sensation through word-of-mouth and social media doing its part to share the glory.
Breakfast Bikini Recipe
For the Manchego Mornay
3 cups whole milk
4 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup coarsely grated 6-month-aged Manchego cheese
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon espelette pepper
For the bikini
4 slices white bread
¼ cup truffle aioli
4 slices white American cheese
¼ cup jamón ibérico
2 fried eggs (sunny side)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
How to Make It
Make the mornay. In small sauce pan, heat milk, salt, black pepper, and espelette on low heat. In separate sauce pan, heat butter on medium-low heat.
Sprinkle the flour over the hot butter and stir for 4 to 5 minutes. Stir often with spatula to cook out the raw flour taste.
One ladle at a time, add the warm milk to the flour and butter mixture, whisking simultaneously.
After milk is added, sprinkle the cheese into warm sauce while whisking. Strain and keep warm.
Make the bikini. On each slice of white bread, smear a few tablespoons of truffle aioli and build the sandwich up from the bottom. Place a slice of cheese on each slice of bread. Next, add jamón ibérico to one slice of bread and place the other piece of cheese and bread on top to complete the sandwich.
Place nonstick sauté pan on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons butter. Place bikini in pan and press lightly for 30 seconds, release, and sear for 2 minutes. Brush remaining melted butter on the top of the bikini and flip. Continue to sear until the bikini is sufficiently hot and cheese in melted.
To assemble. Place bikini on plate and cover with ¼ cup warm manchego mornay and top with sunny side up egg. Lightly salt egg yolk and serve.
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