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Stephanie Alexander's fried ham with homemade tomato sauce and grilled bread

You'll need

2 red capsicum or 8 piquillo peppers (see note) 4 thick ciabatta slices 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1 garlic clove, halved 4 thick slices leg ham (about 5mm thick) 2 tbsp coarsely torn basil, plus extra to serve   Homemade tomato sauce 80 ml (1/3 cup) extra-virgin olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped 1 fresh bay leaf 500 gm vine-ripened tomatoes, core removed, coarsely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 8 basil sprigs


  • 01
  • For homemade tomato sauce, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and bay leaf, cover and stir occasionally until onion is tender but not coloured (4-5 minutes). Uncover, add tomato, garlic and basil, stir occasionally until tomato is tender and thickened (8-10 minutes). Season to taste and set aside to cool slightly. Process through a food mill or mouli (see note), season to taste and set aside.
  • 02
  • Heat a char-grill pan or barbecue over high heat. Char-grill capsicum, turning occasionally, until tender (8-10 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside until cool (20 minutes). Peel, remove seeds (discard), coarsely tear flesh into strips and set aside. (Omit this step if using piquillo peppers.)
  • 03
  • Brush ciabatta with olive oil and char-grill, turning once, until golden (1-2 minutes), rub with cut side of garlic, top with capsicum and keep warm.
  • 04
  • Heat remaining oil in a frying pan over high heat, add ham and cook, turning once, until golden (1-2 minutes). Add 250ml homemade tomato sauce (remainder will keep for 1 week in an airtight container) and basil, cook until warmed through (2-3 minutes), season to taste and serve with grilled ciabatta and capsicum, topped with extra basil.

Note Piquillo peppers are available in jars from select delicatessens. Food mills or moulis are available from select kitchenware suppliers.

"While I do love a good ham sandwich, sometimes the cook needs to come up with something different. The following recipe is based on an idea from Elizabeth David who claims it is a Corsican way to enjoy ham. With a few details adjusted it could just as well be a Spanish dish. It does need a really good homemade tomato sauce and good-quality ham. This dish is gutsy, incredibly simple and a great post-Christmas favourite for young and older at my place." Stephanie Alexander

At A Glance

  • Serves 2 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 2 people

Drink Suggestion

Bold young red tempranillo.

Featured in

Dec 2011

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