Sunday, November 3, 2013

Grilled Cheese, For Grown Ups

A couple weeks ago I went to a talk by Christopher Kimball, founder of America's Test Kitchen.  (ATK publishes Cook's Illustrated magazine, probably my favorite and most trusted food resource.  If you're not already familiar with the magazine, check it out!)

It was only fitting that I'd already planned on making Cook's Illustrated's "Grown Up Grilled Cheese" after the talk.  Quick background: my boyfriend Jordan and I have embarked on a project called The Year of Cheese, which we'll also be blogging.  (As of today there's only an "About" page, but hopefully that will be remedied soon.)  The project is pretty straight forward: sample a new cheese or two each week, sometimes straight up, sometimes in a cooked preparation, record impressions.  We're only a few weeks in, but so far it's going deliciously.  

During his talk, Kimball commented that cooks always change recipes, despite the very specific instructions, which are CI trademark.  (He also gave a few hilarious examples--my favorite was a person who wrote in about CI's Sauteed Chicken recipe: she didn't have chicken, so she used shrimp, and the shrimp came out overcooked.  Um, yeah...)  My changes weren't quite so major: instead of the recommended white bread, I used rosemary bread because I already had half a load on hand, and HOLY COW, it makes delicious grilled cheese.  The second major change was using a Foreman instead of a skillet to grill the sandwiches.  I prefer its speed and ease, and it allows me to skip the butter on the outside of the sandwiches.  However, I measured the remainder of the ingredients with accuracy (using my awesome food scale).  A small amount of brie adds meltiness to the sharp cheddar, while the shallot, white wine, and Dijon mustard add fantastic "grown up" flavor.  I served this alongside homemade roasted tomato soup (recipe forthcoming), and a simple green salad with Dijon vinaigrette.  Grilled cheese and tomato soup never tasted so good.

Grown Up Grilled Cheese with Cheddar and Shallots (Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Magazine, September/October 2013)
Makes 4 big sandwiches

* 7 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into 24 equal pieces, room temperature (Cook's Illustrated recommends Cabot Sharp Vermont Cheddar Cheese, and nothing aged over a year, since it doesn't melt as well)
* 2 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed
* 2 tablespoons dry white wine or dry vermouth 
* 4 teaspoons minced shallot 
* 1 teaspoon (or more) Dijon mustard 
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (if pan frying)
* 8 slices hearty white sandwich bread, or, even better, rosemary bread 

1.  Combine the cheddar, brie, and wine in the bowl of a food processor and process until a smooth paste is formed, 20 to 30 seconds. Add shallot and pulse to combine, about 5 pulses. 

2a. (Frying pan) Combine butter and mustard in small bowl.  Working on parchment paper–lined counter, spread mustard butter evenly over 1 side of slices of bread.  Flip 4 slices of bread over and spread cheese mixture evenly over slices. Top with remaining 4 slices of bread, buttered sides up.

2b. (Foreman grill/panini maker) Spread each slice of bread with a small amount of Dijon mustard.  Top 4 slices of bread with the cheese mixture, the top the sandwiches.

3a. Preheat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. (Droplets of water should just sizzle when flicked onto pan.) Place 2 sandwiches in skillet; reduce heat to medium-low; and cook until both sides are crispy and golden brown, 6 to 9 minutes per side, moving sandwiches to ensure even browning. Remove sandwiches from skillet and let stand for 2 minutes before serving. Repeat with remaining 2 sandwiches.

3b. Preheat your Forman Grill or panini press.  Grill until the cheese mixture is melty and the outsides of the sandwiches are have started to crisp, about 4 minutes.  Let stand for 2 minutes before serving.  Repeat with remaining 2 sandwiches.  

Cooked sandwiches can be held on a wire rack on a baking sheet in a 200˚F oven while the second round cooks. 



  1. I was fortunate that Macy made this for me, and it is truly delicious and sophisticated comfort food. Thanks, Macy!

  2. Thank you for posting this. Original recipe owner would not grant access unless I signed up for a trial membership! I appreciate your post. Thank you.

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