How to Make a Ham and Cheese Croute

Chef David Padberg of the new Raven & Rose restaurant in Portland, Oregon demonstrates how to make his variation of the classic ham and cheese sandwich. Using fresh onions braised with beer ale, and handmade pickled pears this is a richer tasting ham and cheese than its more familiar cousin. The recipes for the croute and the pickled pears are below.

Ham and Cheese Croute with
Ale Braised Onions and Pickled Pears Recipe

Recipes Courtesy of David Padberg
Recipe serves 4 people.


  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 1 oz Butter
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ½ cup Water
  • ¾ cup Amber Ale
  • 4 slices Grilled country brown bread
  • Sliced gruyere
  • Sliced ham
  • Sliced pickled pears

Instructions for Ale Braised Onions:

  1. Peel and thinly slice the onions from top to bottom.
  2. Melt the butter in a wide saute pan or rondeau over high heat, then add the onions, sugar and salt. Allow the onions to caramelize and develop browning in the bottom of the pan.
  3. As the caramelization begins to accumulate, deglaze the pan with about an ounce of water at a time, just enough to moisten the caramelization and dissolve it into the onions. Repeat this caramelization and deglazing step until the onions have achieved a rich, deep mahogany brown.
  4. Add the beer, bring the mixture to a boil and then remove from the heat. The onions are now ready to use. You can substitute white wine for the beer if you prefer.

Instructions for the Ham and Cheese Croute:

  1. In a 6.5” cast iron skillet, add enough ale braised onions to cover the bottom, with a little moisture, but not soupy.
  2. Place the grilled toast in the center and cover with slices of ham and cheese on the top.
  3. Place in 350º oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cheese is warm and bubbly. Remove and garnish with a fan of sliced pickled pears.

Pickled Pears Recipe


  • 2 Bartlett or Bosc pears
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 cup Cider Vinegar
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • ½ tsp Salt


  1. Peel the pears, cut them in half from top to bottom, and place them in a non-reactive bowl.
  2. In a stainless steel saucepot, bring the remaining ingredients to a boil, then pour this hot brine over the pears and allow them to cool in the brine, then refrigerate them until you are ready to use them. This can be done several days ahead.

  3. Thinly slice the pears from top to bottom, so that they are thin enough to be pliable, about 3 mm thick.

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