Nothing takes you back down memory lane like a classic grilled cheese. It is versatile, filling and really easy to make, but given its minimal number of components one has to pair them up just right.
What makes it so delectable aside from the crunch is their use of high quality ingredients from Cowgirl creamery’s cheese and the delicious local bread supplied by our friend Celine’s Brickmaiden bakery.
Paninis are the perfect mid-day snack while camping so we thought we’d grill up a few different recipes in our backyard to recreate at one of our upcoming camping excursions.
The wonderful folks from family-owned Sartori in Wisconsin were kind enough to provide us with a great selection of stunning cheeses to incorporate into our recipes.
1. Grilled asiago cheese with sautéed mushrooms, thyme and a hint of black truffle shavings
For these recipes we used a ciabatta and a sourdough from our local Grand Central bakery.
First, sautée the sliced shimeji and beech mushrooms in olive some oil with a handful of thyme, a smidgen of diced garlic, fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Set aside once it’s done.
Brush both sides of the bread slices with some clarified butter and add a few slices of white or black truffles. We also added a few drops of the black truffle oil from the same bottle they came in.
It is important to add an even coat of butter specially on the outside part of the slices which will give the grilled bread that desired crispiness.
Add the cheese slices and mushrooms, top with the second bread slice and place on the grill until it’s golden brown. For the first two recipes, we used our handy panini press while on the grill.
Tip: As another option to mushrooms one could also caramelize onions with some thyme while matching it up with a stronger cheese like goat cheese or a milder alternative (e.g.: manchego, fontina or gruyère) with a few blue cheese crumbles given the sweetness in the reduced onions.
2. Grilled aged Bellavitano cheese with smoked brisket and BBQ sauce dip
I smoked a brisket ahead of time to use in this recipe, but you can also use roasted beef as an alternative.
For the butter coat, we mixed the clarified butter with some finely diced chives.
The smokey meat and BBQ sauce were nicely balanced by the nutty Cognac Bellavitano cheese.
Tip: Avoid cooking the grilled cheese on direct fire as it will darken the surface of the bread fairly quickly, instead wait until the coals are nice and hot for a slower grill that will also heat up the contents quite nicely.
3. Grilled aged goat cheese with a fried egg and aged balsamic vinegar drizzle
The key here is to fry the egg just right so you get a nice spread of the egg yolk as you bite into it. Set aside once it’s done.
Brush the bread slices and place the egg on top of the cheese slices. The velvety yolk is perfectly complimented by the piquant goat cheese and the sweet and tangy aged balsamic vinegar.
We only added a small drizzle of the sirupy vinegar as an accent to avoid making it too sweet. For this recipe avoid using the panini press if you are using one as it could crush the egg yolk with its weight.
All three recipes turned out better than we expected and while there are countless combinations of grilled cheese, these will give you a nice start.
: Jaime & Zara