There are few foods more comforting than a buttery, toasty grilled-cheese sandwich. In its simplest form, paired with a bowl of hot tomato soup, it is one of life’s most unpretentious indulgences. A simple indulgence, however, that had never seen much change at all, until now. Creativity in the kitchen is at an all-time high with the availability of gourmet items and freshly baked artisan breads in most grocery stores. This imaginative thinking and cooking has exalted the lowly sandwich to heights nothing short of gourmet. Home cooks everywhere are changing things with the addition of an array of cheeses such as fresh mozzarella, Swiss, and Gruyere. The humble white bread is moving over for rustic Italian bread, sourdough, and French. The possibilities are endless, but the one constant is the crispy outside of the bread and the gooeyness of the cheesy inside. This buttery, crusty outside begins with melting only a tablespoon or two of real butter in a hot skillet until it is foamy and sizzling. At that exact moment, you place the sandwich in the pan and fry it until a tender crust forms, pressing slightly to heat the insides. Then you flip it, adding a bit more butter if needed, and repeat the process. The key is getting the butter hot enough but not so hot that it burns. Use your spatula with ease; you do not want to flatten the sandwich completely. So simple, yet so very decadent! Indulge yourself in any of these recipes or let your culinary imagination create your own. Go forth and create!
Grilled Caprese Sandwich
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 slices Italian bread
1 tablespoon pesto
2 to 3 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
2 slices ripe Roma tomato
Fresh basil leaves
Heat a small skillet over medium heat, and add butter. Brush outside of each slice of bread with olive oil. Spread pesto on one side of each bread slice. Top one slice with cheese, then tomato and basil leaves. Top with remaining slice of bread. When butter begins to foam, add sandwich, and fry until outside of bread becomes crisp. Gently press down with a spatula, turn sandwich over, and repeat. Cut sandwich in half and top with remaining basil leaves.
Yield: 1 serving
Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwich
4 slices sourdough bread or other hearty bread
4 slices mozzarella cheese
1 cup roasted and shredded chicken
¼ cup wing sauce
¼ cup mayonnaise
Top each slice of bread with a slice of cheese. In a medium-size bowl, add chicken and wing sauce; mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, blue cheese, and celery. Divide chicken mixture between two pieces of bread and top each with a generous dollop of the blue-cheese mixture. Top each with remaining slices of cheese and bread. In a medium-size skillet, heat butter until foamy. Add sandwiches to skillet and fry, pressing down lightly with a spatula on both sides until golden. Remove from pan and slice each sandwich in half. Serve immediately.
Yield: 2 sandwiches