Cheese Sandwich Soufflé

This is a recipe from my grandmother Ruth that I love for its simplicity. It is nothing more than a ham and cheese sandwich over which you pour some beaten eggs and milk, let it soak, and then bake. (I confess that I dressed it up a bit by adding the ham, and that my son Sam insists I should have added even more.) Any flavorful sliced melting cheese and any flavorful pork product—cooked bacon, pancetta, prosciutto, or good old-fashioned country ham—would work here. This dish can serve as a great light lunch or supper  or—because it requires so little prep—as the main attraction at a brunch for a bunch of friends.

Serves 4

8 slices homemade-style white bread, 3 to 4 inches square, crusts removed
1/2 pound thinly sliced cheese (Munster, provolone, fontina, or Gruyère)
2 ounces prosciutto or boiled ham, thinly sliced (optional)
3 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish and arrange 4 slices of the bread flat on the bottom. Cover each with equal amounts of cheese and the ham, if desired. Top with the remaining bread.

Beat the eggs lightly in a small bowl and pour in the milk. Season with the salt and blend well. Pour over the sandwiches, cover, and refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the sandwiches, uncovered, until lightly browned around the edges and set in the center, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve hot.
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