Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.
April Is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month!
Shall we ask for a drum roll please, or for a moment of silence?
If one were to look up the word “comfort food” in the dictionary, would there not be a photograph of a grilled cheese sandwich?
Think about it.
Bread shimmering with a light brush of olive oil, margarine, or (dear Heaven!) pure Irish butter. Then that bread is slowly toasted until it becomes crisp and golden. Encased within that tender-crisp bread shield is a buttery, creamy, oozy layer of cheese.
Does life get any better than this?
Imagine for a Moment These Amazing Combinations
Everyone knows how to make a grilled cheese sandwich, so I won't insult your intelligence by giving you a step-by-step tutorial. But allow me to present a few flavor combinations that you might not have thought of before:
As with the famous Italian salad, you will want to find the freshest Mozzarella and ricotta cheeses and the best of summertime's bounty of juicy sweet sun-kissed tomatoes.
- Bread: Rustic Italian loaf
- Cheese: Fresh Mozzarella, fresh ricotta
- Vegetable or Fruit: Fresh tomato slices, fresh basil leaves
- Condiment: A drizzle of balsamic vinegar
2. Chicken, Pepper Jack, and Avocado
It's like a chicken taco without the crunchy shell but there are still lots of contrasting textures in this Tex-Mex-flavored sandwich.
- Bread: Rustic white
- Cheese: Pepper jack
- Protein: Shredded rotisserie chicken
- Vegetable or Fruit: Avocado
- Condiment: Chipotle mayonnaise
3. Deli Turkey With Goat Cheese
I love the contrast of sweet tender white turkey slices and funky goat cheese. The rosemary and smoked almonds will provide crunch and a surprising pop of flavor.
- Bread: Rustic white or sourdough
- Cheese: Goat cheese
- Protein: Deli turkey slices
- Vegetable: Fresh spinach leaves
- Condiments: Fresh minced rosemary leaves, chopped smoked almonds
4. Ham, Gruyere, and Cherry
Baked hams are often glazed with fruit preserves or pineapple juice; why not add that sweet touch to your grilled ham sandwich?
- Bread: Brioche
- Cheese: Gruyère
- Protein: Deli-sliced ham
- Condiment: Cherry preserves
5. Roast Beef With Bacon and Gorgonzola
I've always loved the combination of beef and blue cheese; you haven't lived until you've tasted a filet mignon with Roquefort cheese melting on top or a medium-rare burger just off the grill with a slice of Stilton on top. This grown-up version will elevate your grilled cheese to a whole new level.
- Bread: Sourdough
- Cheese: Gorgonzola
- Protein: Rare roast beef, crisp-cooked bacon
- Vegetable: Thinly-sliced red onion
- Condiment: Sour cream
6. Smoked Gouda With Chutney
The first time I tasted mango chutney was on an appetizer served at the wedding reception for my nephew and his wife. It had an amazing sweet-tart flavor I had never before experienced. I soon learned that the "secret ingredient" was tamarind.
- Bread: Oatmeal
- Cheese: Smoked Gouda, shredded
- Protein: Crisp-cooked bacon slices
- Vegetable or Fruit: Apple or mango chutney (I like Major Greys)
- Condiment: Dijon mustard, mayonnaise
7. Turkey, Brie, and Cranberry Sauce
The second happiest day in my kitchen is Thanksgiving Day. The happiest day in my kitchen is the day after Thanksgiving. That's when we take tender slices of moist turkey, leftover cranberry sauce, and use them to create an amazing sandwich.
- Bread: French bread (French-rosemary would be amazing!)
- Cheese: Brie
- Protein: Sliced white-meat turkey
- Vegetable or Fruit: Cranberry sauce (jellied, whole, or homemade)
- Condiment: Mayonnaise
8. White Cheddar, Pancetta, and Tomato
Claire Robinson (Food Network) provides a video to show exactly how to craft this perfect grilled cheese sandwich for grownups.
- Bread: Brioche
- Cheese: Sharp white cheddar
- Protein: Pancetta
- Vegetable or Fruit: Heirloom tomato
- Condiments: Softened butter and salt and pepper to taste
OK, so this is not my lengthiest, most intensely researched, or informative article, but I have work to do.
I need to go make sandwiches!
© 2015 Linda Lum