I found out today that Friday April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Day. For someone like me, that's perfect. Cheese is actually my favorite food. I am told that it's an addiction, but I really don't care. Grilled cheese is one of my all time favorite comfort foods and there are so many different varieties. Generally I don't think that there's anything better than a plain old fashioned grilled cheese with American cheese and tomato soup. I know, I know....
That being said my favorite restaurant in NYC Artisanal is having a contest to come up with a fabulous new grilled cheese sandwich to put on their menu and I decided to try to come up with a submission in hopes of winning a fabulous dinner in their private cave.
I took my inspiration from my favorite appetizer in the world, the simple yet sublime Gougere. A Gougere is a simple puff pastry with with flavorings added and baked into warm little balls of cheesy deliciousness. They're cheese puffs, but to call them that is actually an insult.A perfect Gougere is a sublime little puff of Pate a choux (think cream puffs!) filled with spices and cheese. I make mine with gruyere, jarlsburg and cumin and I love them.
This grilled cheese began with me caramelizing the onions and ended with sandwiches of fresh pumpernickel bread and three different cheeses; Gruyere, Jarlsburg and to add the cumin flavor , a delicious Leyden which is a medium hard nutty cheese reminiscent of a Gouda and is studded with cumin. I added apples and mustard seed to the onions because I wanted the touch of sweetness. I have to admit that it was very very good!
You will need for each sandwich:
2 tablespoons of Caramelized onions. I caramelized my onions with a few apples, a touch of honey, balsamic vinegar and mustard seed, but plain lightly salted caramelized onions would be just as delicious!
Two slices of a fresh Pumpernickel Boule about 1/2 an inch thick. (I got mine at Whole Foods)
2 or 3 hand sliced thin pieces EACH of Leyden, Jarlsburg and Gruyere.
1 or 2 slices of organic Black Forest ham ( I didn't use it as we are not eating meat right now but I thought that it could be a great smoky addition)
1 tablespoon of Pasture raised organic butter
The preparation is simple!
Lay the cheese in alternating layers on the pumpernickel bread and top with the onions. Close the sandwiches and melt the butter in a cast iron pan. Lay the sandwiches in the pan and begin to grill them. Take a manual panini press or if not a cast iron pan lid and press the sandwiches. They are done when the cheese is melted and the bread is delightfully buttery and crisp.
Serve with a side of mushroom soup or an arugula and walnut salad! To drink I'd choose a delightfully refreshing hard apple cider or apple lambic!