Grilled cheeses might be one of my favorite and easy foods to make. Well, that and beans-on-toast. And chili cheese dogs. And easy pizza. And chocolate chip cookies. And brownies. And mac and cheese. OK, OK, so I have lots of favorite foods, but grilled cheese has quickly become a new favorite. (wow, that’s a lot of links.)
Do you vary your choice of cheese when making a grilled cheese? I used to insist that all of mine be made with gruyere or ementeller. Maybe I felt that it was typically French and that it was simply good enough that I didn’t need to explore. (And, frankly, it is quite good. Try a grilled cheese with a touch of good dijon mustard and some gruyere.)
Recently though, I’ve decided to expand my acceptable ingredient list for grilled cheeses. I’ve always been a fan of good cheese (I am half french, after all), but those cheese have been for eating cut off of the wedge, not melted between bread. Boy, was I wrong not to start varying my cheeses earlier.
In this sandwich, I reached for Manchego, a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese with slightly sharp earthy tones. My sun-dried tomato spread was already built off a pesto base, so I could count on some basil and nutty flavors to be present. I added a few large leaves of basil to the sandwich and a sprinkle of rosemary to increase the herbal nature of the sandwich. Everything came together perfectly. The sourdough provided a great base for the sandwich offsetting the herbs and the cheese just enough. The manchego blended excellent with the other flavors and even the tomatoes weren’t dominating the rest of the ingredients.
I love it when some of the cheese melts out of the side of the bread and starts cooking onto the skillet. It gets that great crust on it and develops so much more flavor.
All my grilled cheese directions are very similar and pretty easy.
Grilled Cheese: Manchego with sun-dried tomato spread
Makes two sandwiches.
4 slices sourdough bread
about 8 ounces Manchego, cut into slices or shredded
sun-dried tomato spread
oil (vegetable or canola)
1. Butter one side of each slice of bread. If your butter isn’t soft, melt it in the microwave and use a brush to apply it.
2. Spread a non-trivial about of the sun-dried tomato spread over the other side of each slice. You will have a butter side and tomato side.
3. Place the cheese onto the tomato side and top with several leaves of basil. Sprinkle bit of rosemary onto the other slice of bread (onto the tomato spread, so it sticks). Place the two slices of bread together (butter sides out, tomato sides in) to make the sandwich.
4. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add just a drop of oil and spread it around the skillet with a paper towel. (You don’t want to cook in the oil, you’ve already buttered the bread. The oil is to give extra insurance against sticking if cheese oozes out.)
5. When warm, place the sandwiches into the skillet and allow to cook until the bottom is toasted and golden. The cheese will likely not be melted. Carefully flip the sandwiches over and cook until the next side is golden and brown.
* Extra: If you want fully melted, runny cheese that oozes out and cooks onto the pan a bit (I’m all for that!), cover the skillet after you flip it.
I need to make more kinds of grilled cheeses. There are so many kinds of cheeses that are just begging to be made into grilled cheese now!