Oh grilled cheese, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways?
- cheap (sometimes)
A simple grilled cheese sandwich got my roommates and me through a few rough times at NYU. I’m not talking about a fancy schmancy grilled cheese like the one featured in this post either (I give myself credit, I know). Ours were made with two slices of Wonder Bread, two slices of Kraft American cheese freshly peeled from their plastic casing, and a thick coat of butter. The sandwich was then thrown into a hot pan and often came out burnt but eaten in delight anyway.
Though I look back fondly on those sandwiches – perhaps owing more to missing my college days – this particular grilled cheese is not like that. This one uses a whole host of ingredients that grilled cheese purists may argue make this more of a general panino. However, this is my website and my recipe so I take the liberty to call my recipes what I want. In this case, I’m calling it a grilled cheese sandwich.
The best part about this sandwich is that you can add or omit whatever you want (except of course the cheese). The main lesson here is that anything slapped between two slices of bread with cheese and then heated with butter will most likely taste wonderful. Seriously, it would probably even good with this… Or maybe just stick to the tried and true combinations like the below 🙂
Weekend Lunch Grilled Cheese
makes 2 sandwiches
4 slices of fresh sourdough loaf
6 cloves of homemade garlic confit*
2 TB Dijon mustard
2-3 oz thinly sliced extra Comte cheese, which I’ve extolled previously
2-3 oz thinly sliced ham
6-8 leaves of baby arugula
4 thin slices of fresh tomatoes
black pepper to taste
1 TB butter, melted
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Mash the garlic confit and mustard together and spread evenly on each slice of bread. Layer all of the remaining ingredients up to the butter on two slices as shown below. I like to start and end with cheese so that when it melts, it acts like glue for the sandwich. Really though, isn’t cheese in fact the wonderful glue that holds all of our worlds and lives in order? Such deep thoughts…Okay, moving on.
Top each layered slice and brush it liberally with the melted butter. Lay the buttered side of the sandwich down in the cast iron skillet first and then top with heavy pans/lids/bricks/end tables to smush it. Heat for 3-4 minutes or until it’s as toasted as you like. Before flipping the sandwich to toast the other side, brush it with the remaining butter. Flip it and then heat for another 3-4 minutes or until it’s as toasted as you like.
I served the finished sandwich with a matching side salad of baby arugula and tomato tossed with a garlic Dijon vinaigrette. And yes, I know that’s like the the whole ordering-a-diet-coke-with-a-super-sized-value-meal type thing.
Great, now I’m in the mood for Wonder Bread and a slice of Kraft cheese.
* Garlic confit is a simple pantry item I learned to make from Thomas Keller in the Bouchon cookbook. Peel the cloves from 5-6 heads of garlic and place in a small saucepan. Pour in enough olive oil just to cover all the cloves and turn the heat on the stove to the lowest heat possible. The bubbles should barely break the surface. Braise for about 30 minutes and then cool. Store the cloves and oil together in an airtight jar in the fridge.