Is it still a grilled cheese sandwich if there are other things in it other than cheese? That seems to be the argument among foodies when it comes to the many variations of this American classic. I say, whatever! As long as it tastes good!
I first encountered the grown-up grilled cheese sandwich (or “gourmet” grilled cheese sandwich) while watching Oprah. Martha Stewart was a guest and she wowed Oprah and her audience with a grilled cheese sandwich bar where you could mix and match different kinds of bread, cheese, fruit, herbs, blah blah blah, blah blah bluh (Hi, Gibb!). How fun! I looked online for interesting recipes and narrowed it down to three. The procedure for all three sandwiches is the same. I used whole wheat walnut bread and gouda but of course, you can go wild and use whatever you want. In fact, that’s the point!
Apple & Bacon Grilled Cheese
For this sandwich, you’ll need:
2 slices bread
3 slices cheese (because my bread was long and I had to use 1 1/2 slices to cover one bread)
2 T unsalted butter
2 1/2 slices green apple
3-4 strips cooked bacon
1. Heat pan on medium-low heat. Butter a slice of bread on one side and place it on the pan, butter side down. Top with cheese, apple slices and bacon.
2. Butter another slice of bread on one side. After about 2 minutes, check to see if the bread has browned. Your cheese should be starting to melt by now. If the bread is browned to your liking, top the bacon with another layer of cheese and the other slice of buttered bread, butter side up.
3. Flip and let toast for another 2-3 minutes or until all the cheese has melted and the bread is browned to your liking, pressing down frequently.
Tada! Apple & bacon grilled cheese
It’s no secret that pork and sweet-tart fruits make a good pairing. The crunchy apple and bacon also give this sandwich good texture. The walnut bread really shines on this one. Delicious!
Ham & Mango Jam Grilled Cheese
Jumping off of the pork and fruit combo. Some good quality ham and mango jam give this sandwich a balanced sweet-salty flavor. I initially wanted to use apricot jam, even fig, but I found a really nice mango marmalade. I think the mango is under-appreciated. I guess that’s what happens when something is so abundant. Sweet, juicy, generous mango – what a glorious fruit! For step # 2 on this sandwich, spread jam on one side of the second slice of bread first. Place the bread on top of ham, jam side down. You can then butter the top.
I think this one’s my favorite. Mango was a great choice. The quality of your ham will make or break this sandwich.
Pear & Harissa Grilled Cheese
How weird! How exotic!
I made a variation of harissa once to go with Halal chicken over rice and decided to use what I had left over for this sandwich. The tomato, cilantro and mint flavors of the harissa were sure to make this sandwich interesting, not to mention zingy! You can check out the recipe here.
I’m on the fence about this one and I think it’s because my pear wasn’t very good. It was mushy and the flavor was dull. If you’re gonna try making this, I suggest you use Asian pear. I plan to eat the rest of the sandwich sans the fruit. The harissa and cheese though is quite nice! How weird! How exotic!
Fun Food Fact: You can make grilled cheese using an iron. Check this out.