23 December 2011

Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Gourmet grilled cheese

I'd like to take a moment to share a tasty recipe with you all. My mom and I have been making these for years, and I can't remember where she found the original idea. I've made all sorts of variations lately and I've found that it's a pretty flexible recipe.

There are five basic ingredients: bread, a soft & creamy cheese, jam, nuts, and onions. You might be thinking, "jam and onions?!" but trust me on this one. After you've tried it, you may scoff, but I don't think you will. It's that good.  Listed below are the original ingredients in bold as well as substitutions:

Gourmet grilled cheese
This time I used wholegrain bread, leeks, colby, walnuts & raspberry jam

Sourdough bread (I have made it with wheat and wholegrain bread with success)
Muenster cheese (this is almost impossible to find outside of the US.  Any creamy cheese like colby, havarti, etc. works. Port Salut is the closest match I've found to muenster overseas, but it's creamier and therefore messier. Brie would probably be a delicious, melted mess)
Chopped Green onions (also called spring onions) (I've found leeks work well, or even red onions in a real pinch, sliced very thin and pre-cooked) 
Chopped Pecans (or walnuts)
Raspberry Jam (I've never had to substitute this, but blackberry jam might be nice)
Butter, preferably at room temperature

If using leeks or red onions, melt a small amount of butter on a large skillet over medium-high heat. When I say a small amount, I mean use the smallest amount you can get away with. Sautée the onions until they are cooked, then remove them from the pan and reduce the heat to medium.

While the onions are cooking, or if using green onions, while the pan is warming up, lightly butter the outsides of two slices of bread.  Trying to apply cold butter to bread is always a bad idea.  You'll either tear the bread or end up with more butter than you need.  If your butter is not at room temperature, you can skip buttering the bread and butter the pan instead. 

You can even skip the butter altogether and toast them on the skillet instead, but this sandwich is meant to be sinfully good, so I've never tried it that way and I make no promises about the tastiness.  Gently place the bread butter side down onto a cutting board.

Spread raspberry jam on the inside of one slice and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Add onions, whether green or cooked. Add thinly sliced cheese to the other side to cover.

These directions will be unnecessary to anyone who has made a grilled cheese sandwich before, but here they are:

Put the sandwiches together (nut/onion side on the bottom for less mess) and transfer to the warm skillet with a spatula.  After a few minutes, gently turn the sandwich to avoid nut and onion loss, and continue until cheese is melted and the bread is toasted to your preference, in my case golden brown.

Tip: if you like your grilled cheese with a lighter toast, cook at a lower temperature.  This allows the cheese to melt without burning the bread.

Grilling leeks
If you use leeks, may they be less woody and tough than this one was!

Grilled cheese

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