Friday, July 10, 2015

Let's have a chat about Grilled Cheese


Like many of you, I grew up on grilled cheese sandwiches.  My mom actually called them Toasted Cheese sandwiches but it is all the same in the end.  When I was very little, it was just Kraft American slices and Roman Meal bread. If we were REALLY lucky she would use white bread but we were mostly a whole wheat bread household.  She would always use plenty of butter on the outside of the bread and press the sandwich nice and firmly in the skillet.  LOVE = grilled cheese.

There is a lovely young woman in our office (I won't use your real name "Lylah", wink, wink) and she had a very limited food life before I imposed my will upon her a few years ago.  She didn't like anything. She would rarely try anything new and made those "Eww!" noises when you talked about mushrooms or eggs or fish.  "Lylah" has come a LONG way and has become much more adventuresome in her food choices. To be clear, adventure means trying an avocado for the first time at age 26. What?  It came to my attention last week that "Lylah" has never had a grilled cheese sandwich.  I know, I could hardly believe it either but this poor girl has been cruelly deprived of one of the greatest comfort foods of all time!  Needless to say I was compelled to right this universal wrong.  Should I go childhood introduction or full on ridiculousness?  Guess what I chose?

There is a place in London called Borough Market.  It is my Shangri-La.  It is an open air farmer's market meets traditional, old school marketplace.  The kind of place when people marketed everyday and knew the names of the purveyors of their meat and fish.  Where the produce came from 100 miles outside London and artisans were truly stars.  (I will write a whole post on Borough Market in the near future because I suppose to be writing about Grilled Cheese!)  I digress.  The reason I bring up Borough Market is that I had the best grilled cheese of my life there.  Ok, the grill was kind of disgusting but I think that added to the flavor profile.  I have had many grilled cheeses from the same stand over the years and have dragged family members and co-workers there with me just for the grilled cheese.  I have spent some serious time breaking down what makes it so good. (Mostly alone with burn marks on the roof of my mouth and butter dripping down my wrist.)

First, cheese is paramount.  I use a combination of aged cheddar, Gruyere, and Raclette.  This combo makes for a nutty, slightly sharp, melty experience.  You shred all three together 3:2:1. Second, shred 3/4 of a Granny Smith Apple into the cheeses. Third,  add 1/3 a shredded onion and a little a little salt and pepper.  This will yield 2 sandwiches.  I like to use a sweeter onion personally. Toss it all together. The whole mixture has a nutty, sweet, tart, sharp taste to it that make for a great balanced bite.  I prefer to use an artisan sourdough or french bread.  Something that has a crust but is still soft in the middle.  I use softened, salted butter on the outside of each slice.  Instead of a skillet, I now use a panini press but the key to either is the pressing.  Enjoy and you are WELCOME!
(IF you are feeling like this is entirely too unhealthy, add some arugula or a few leafs of basil - adds a really nice dimension to the sandwich. And while you are at it - give yourself a break!) 

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