Ham and Cheese Bites

Ham and cheese is a classic flavor combination that most start eating from a young age. The only difference is that as you get older, the ham and the cheese usually become better in quality! Here is a Basque version using the ham and cheese from the region. If you can't get your hands on these particular ingredients, any other ham and cheese will probably do!
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 50 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 12 servings
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Ingredients

Salsa Brava:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, roughly chopped 

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 

1 teaspoon piment d'espelette or cayenne

2 teaspoons sugar 

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar 

One 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes 

Salt

Ham and Cheese Bites:

1 fresh baguette

6 thin slices Basque ham, such as Jambon de Bayonne or Kintoa ham, halved 

12 slices Basque hard cheese, such as ossau-iraty or any hard sheep's-milk cheese) 

12 good-quality black olives, pitted 

Directions

Special equipment:
toothpicks
  1. For the salsa brava: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Stir in the piment d'espelette and fry for another minute. Add the sugar, vinegar, canned tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down and the flavors have had a chance to meld, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 cup water. Carefully puree the mixture until completely smooth, using an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. If the sauce is too thick, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (Makes about 2 cups.)
  3. For the ham and cheese bites: Cut the baguette on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices. Slather each slice with some salsa brava and top with a piece of ham, a slice of cheese and an olive. Insert a toothpick to hold everything in place.

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