For 15 years, I thought that the only way to make a grilled cheese sandwich, was by slapping together a couple of pieces of Wonder Bread and a Kraft Singles slice. Toasting it in the old dusty silver grilled cheese press, weighing in at just over 10 pounds, and then calling it a day when the bread burned and the Kraft cheese melted and then evaporated, leaving one thick piece of bread with some weird orange bits of plastic crusted to the bottom. Don't forget the canned tomato soup simmering on the stove, my 14 year old self mumbles. If only I had a time machine and I could go back 20 years and slap my 14 year old self in the face.
I'm not sure why I stuck to the arbitrary Wonder/Kraft rules when it came to making these warm toasty sandwiches, because I know that we had access to homemade fresh bread. French, Italian, and Sourdough. I do remember these loaves. I remember my dad stopping by the general store on the way home to pick up a loaf of crusty Italian bread. And I know that we had some good quality cheese kicking around, because we were a cheese family, and when you're a cheese family you just stock the fridge with good quality cheese, no questions asked. It just never occurred to me that grilled cheese could be made any other way. And then there was the time that Kathryn (the more adventurous of my friends) put tomato slices on my grilled cheese. That blew my mind.
The key to perfecting any dish, is learning the techniques and choosing good quality ingredients. A crusty sourdough loaf, and a good sharp cheddar. What we don't want to see is a 'Wonder Bread' grilled cheese with Kraft singles slices. I just can't, I just won't. I am aware that there are some people that do enjoy a little Wonder/Kraft in their lives, and I am totally ok with that. I just want people to know that a grilled cheese sandwich can be so much more. Once you have the two key ingredients - good bread and cheese - you can spice it up any which way. This time around I used a little fig preserves, pumpkin seeds, Granny Smith apple slices and a handful of arugula. I like to add a little butter on each side of bread, and fry it until brown. Then, I place a generous serving of cheese on one half and broil it in the oven until the cheese has turned brown and melty. It's the way we do things around here. The fig preserve is the right amount of sweet, the sharp cheddar is the right amount of bite, the crunchy apples are juicy and tart, the seeds are crunchy and earthy, and the arugula spicy and fresh. A pretty bad ass grilled cheese sandwich.
print GRILLED CHEESE WITH FIG PRESERVE, APPLE, AND PUMPKIN SEEDSmakes one sandwich
notes: a nice crusty loaf (Italian or sourdough) is perfect for grilled cheese. I try to avoid the store bought 'Wonder Bread' type loaves. With two very important ingredients - bread and cheese - it's is important to use the best. Also, don't try to substitute mild or medium cheddar. The sharpness is an important flavor the breaks up the sweetness from the fig preserves.