Give your grilled cheese sandwich an upgrade
This gourmet grilled cheese made with whole grain bread is my attempt to give a healthy twist to a classic sandwich. Like any red-blooded American, I love a classic grilled cheese on white bread. (A soft, Italian loaf works particularly well.) But I also appreciate the depth of flavor you can get from a whole grain bread.
Choosing your bread for a gourmet grilled cheese
The choice of a hearty, seeded whole grain loaf brings things like fiber and vitamin E to your sandwich. But it also enhances the flavor and texture. The flavor of whole grains give balance to the direct, salty, tangy flavor of the cheese. And unlike a white bread, which can go mushy if you’re not careful, whole grain gives your sandwich a chewy, filling texture. And I’m a firm believer that the shock of multiple textures to the tongue can help make a dish more sexy.
I like a bread with seeds, like Dave’s Killer Bread. But this is YOUR sandwich. So choose a whole grain bread that will make the best grilled cheese for your taste.
Of course, I love a dish with balance and I think the sweetness of caramelized onions plus the sharp tang of dill pickles help to turn grilled cheese from a comfort food to a sensational flavor experience. With my instructions below, you will learn how to make caramelized onions as well as learn the technique for how to make grilled cheese with a perfectly crisp texture and warm, melting center. (Although this is a gourmet grilled cheese, it really is an easy grilled cheese recipe.)
I like to think that this upgraded–aka gourmet–version of the sandwich is something you can serve to guests–and expect them to be impressed. Of course, as a healthy comfort food, this gourmet grilled cheese sandwich also a treat to make for that someone special, especially at the end of a rough day. (And don’t forget that cheese is an aphrodisiac.)
Make grilled cheese night an event with wine
To enhance your grilled cheese experience, I recommend trying a new wine from my Wine of the Week column. Which one would I recommend? I think you’ll find quite a few gems there that will bring your taste buds joy. But, although it might surprise you to hear it, I enjoy a crisp Champagne like this Nicholas Feuillatte when I make this sandwich.
whole grain grilled cheese with dill pickles and caramelized onions
For the Panini filling:
- 4 slices your favorite whole grain bread with seeds
- 2 tsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar (for the more adventurous palate Cotswald makes a nice twist on the flavor)
- 1/4 cup caramelized onions see recipe below
- 8 slices sandwichdill pickle or bread and butter pickles to cover bread
For the caramelized onions:
- 1 tsp butter
- 1/2 medium yellow onion thinly sliced
For the Panini:
- Preheat Panini press or heat pan on stove top to medium heat.
- Butter the outside of each bread slice. Top 2 unbuttered slices with onion mixture and pickles. Divide cheese between the two sandwiches. Top with remaining bread.
- If using a saute pan, cook on the first side for 2-3 minutes and 1-2 minutes on second side or until both sides are golden and cheese is melted. In a Panini press, cook until grill marks are achieved on both sides.
For the caramelized onions:
- Heat saute pan over medium heat. Melt the butter and add the onions.
- Salt lightly to begin the caramelization process.
- Sweat onions for 5 minutes then add a smoked salt (I use Chef's Salt Bacon BBQ).
- Reduce heat to low and cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
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