This betwixt time – not quite winter, no longer fall – makes us crave warm comforts: noisy fires, knitted socks, grilled cheeses. Tackling what we can (our wood pile remains woefully thin and our knitting needles are long gone/lost), we’ve come up with a grown-up way to satiate our gooey hankering: first coating toasted slices of our brioche bread in fig jam, then melting a blend of goat cheese and gruyere before topping it all off with Snake River Farms bacon and caramelized onions. Melded by melting, the thick slab is perfect for dipping in our roasted tomato soup. Only just debuted, the Grown-Up Grilled Cheese has already become a local’s favorite.
With our bellies barking less, we realize that we are not alone. Everyone, from IF farmers to Thomas Keller, honors the cheesy classic on their menu. Here, we explore some secret ingredients in other chefs’ quivers:
Thank the cows penned beside the Reed’s Dairy parking lot for helping to make such a scrumptious grilled cheese. Quintessentially simple, the Idaho Falls dairy presses their handmade cheddar cheese between two slices of buttered white bread. Wash it all down with an equally farm-fresh chocolate milkshake. So worth the drive.
Ditch butter in favor of mayonnaise, commands Gabrielle Hamilton of NYC’s Prune. Mayo doesn’t burn as quickly as butter nor will it stick to the pan. The overall effect: More even browning and crisping. Atop mayo-slathered rustic slices, Hamilton adds only shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese. Keep it simple stupid.
Why settle for one cheese when you can blend two (or three or…) into a melted medley of flavors? More is more when it comes to grilled cheese: Thomas Keller combines his house pain au lait with a blend of fontina and gruyere. Meanwhile, José Andrés of Jaleo mashes manchego, murcia, valdeón and goat cheese. Though perhaps you can go overboard: As the late French president Charles de Gaulle once quipped, “How can anyone govern a nation that has 246 different kinds of cheeses?”
If melted cheese is on your mind, you may find yourself debating between mac n’ cheese and a grilled cheese. Dilemma no more: Eateries the country over are making your life easier by plating both in one. The Grilled Cheese Truck trolls LA with the Cheesy Mac which includes pulled pork and caramelized onions. A barbecue between bread.
Ever jesters, we would like to balance our playful treatment of grilled cheese with the (anonymously) earnest Wikipedia entry on the matter, which goes into detail on preparation (“A grilled cheese is often heated by placing the buttered slices of bread, with the cheese between the slices, on a frying pan or griddle”) and variations (the American sandwich should not be confused with its British relative, “the cheese toastie or simply toastie”). According to the author(s) and uncited food historians, cooked break and cheese is an ancient food. So you can feel historically grounded in your gobbling.