Perfect Grilled Cheese

Perfect Grilled Cheese
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We are doing everything we can around here to prepare for spring—raking up pinecones, planting rose bushes, and laying fresh bark chips.

We’re also excited that our local farmers market is finally open again. We are looking forward to getting our hands on fresh, local and not to mention inexpensive asparagus and other seasonal produce. But let’s be honest, it’s still rather chilly in the northwest and thankfully, not all of our spring endeavors involve being outdoors.

Some of them involve cleaning out our cupboards and closets and putting away our heavy winter clothes. But most of them involve being in our kitchens and soaking in the extra hours of daylight we’ve recently been blessed with. It was with this idea of spring tidying and preparation for a new season that we arrived on this week’s recipe. Next month is National Grilled Cheese month—a perfect excuse for delightful spring grilled cheese sandwich. In our humble opinion, the only thing better than bread and cheese, is melted cheese on crispy, buttery bread with asparagus!


We now know not all grilled cheese sandwiches are created equal.

Perfect Grilled Cheese

We’ve all made grilled cheese sandwiches a time or two…or 10,000. You may think you’ve perfected your skills, but let us share with you a few new tricks we picked up from next month’s issue of Fine Cooking magazine. The cover says it all: “Chefs’ secrets to amazing grilled cheese.” We were familiar with: bringing cheese to room temp, grating cheese to ensure even and quick melting and low-and-slow heat for a thoroughly melted center, but the trick we learned elevated our grilled cheese to the next level.

Perfect Grilled Cheese
Perfect Grilled Cheese

Here’s the secret equation: butter + mayo = crispy. For crispy perfection, chef Dave Danhi, founder of The Grilled Cheese Truck in Los Angeles, spreads a mix of equal parts softened butter and mayonnaise on the outside of the sandwich. “The mayonnaise raises the butter’s smoking point,” says Danhi, which means the sandwich can cook longer without the butter burning. Brilliant.

Perfect Grilled Cheese

Thank you Dave and Fine Cooking. We now know not all grilled cheese sandwiches are created equal.

Perfect Grilled Cheese
Perfect Grilled Cheese

Grilled Cheese with Asparagus

Serves 4

Ingredients

8 slices of ciabatta, or any other rustic bread without large holes
4 tbsp good mayonnaise
4 tbsp room temperature butter
4 tbsp sweet red pepper pesto
3/4 lb thin asparagus spears
6 oz gruyere, room temperature and grated
6 oz mozzarella, room temperature and thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven 400°. In a large bowl toss asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper until coated. In a single layer, spread asparagus on a baking sheet and bake on center rack for 10-15 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise and butter until fully combined. Assembly sandwiches by spreading the butter-mayo mixture on one side of each piece of bread. On the inside of the sandwich start your layering with the sweet red pepper pesto, followed by grated gruyere, asparagus, mozzarella and second piece of bread.
  3. Over low heat, warm up a heavy cast iron skillet. In small batches begin to grill your sandwiches. Carefully watch to make sure that you aren’t burning the butter-mayo, flip as soon as one side is golden brown and continue with other side. This process should take 8-10 min on each side. Do not rush this process or you will compromise the crispy golden crust of a perfect grilled cheese.
  4. Once both sides are golden brown, transfer to a plate and serve with soup or salad and enjoy. Beware, you may want more than one…or two.