In honor of National Grilled Cheese Sandwich month.
Take starch, spread it with butter and fry so the sugars caramelize and the surface becomes crisp, stuff it with salt-laden fat that, when heated, flows like molten lava-goo, add the fact that its cheap and easy, and you’ve got a perfect food.
If any sandwich deserves a dedicated month it’s the grilled cheese.
There is nothing wrong with an ordinary, well-executed grilled cheese. It’s perfect after all. So great that no greater sandwich can be conceived. But, its always fun, although utterly illogical, to try to improve on perfection.
So let me raise an objection. Grilled cheese has fat, sugar, salt, and umami. But where is the sour and bitter? Shouldn’t a perfect food contain all perfections, all tastes? Maybe it’s not so perfect after all.
Here’s to a more perfect grilled cheese: A gorgonzola sandwich on pumpernickel, fried in butter, laced with radicchio for the bitter, spread with a fig paste to bring the sweetness into balance. But what to do about sour? Adding pickles was just distracting. In the name of subtlety, we’ll just brighten the fig paste with some lemon juice to give it some tang.
Is it more perfect than perfect? You be the judge.
Recipe below the fold.
Recipe: Grilled Blue Cheese with Radicchio
Inspired by a recipe from Bourbon Steak, a restaurant in Washington, D.C.
5 oz gorgonzola (or any blue cheese)
2 tspn brandy
1 hour before making the sandwich, combine cheese with brandy and allow to rest at room temperature.
1 1/2 cup dried figs, stems removed and quartered
3/4 cup water
3 tspn lemon juice
pinch of salt
Place the dried figs and water in a saucepan. Over low heat, simmer until the figs are soft and 2 tablespoons of the liquid remains.
Add water if the mixture gets dry. Blend with lemon juice in a food processor to make a paste. Reserve.
2 3-oz wedges of raddichio cut from a medium size head
4 tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Season radicchio with salt and pepper
3. Toss with olive oil and roast in oven until it is cooked through and has begun to brown.
Assemble the Sandwiches
4 slices pumpernickel bread
brandy-soaked blue cheese
thin slices of Fontina cheese sufficient to cover the bread (substitute any mild, melting cheese)
1. Brush butter on all pieces of bread.
2. Spread a generous portion of fig paste over the interior side of one slice of bread for each sandwich
3. Add fontina, blue cheese and radicchio forming the sandwiches
4. Heat skillet over medium heat and brown both sides of the sandwiches, until surface is brown and cheese is melted
(to get even heating you may have to use 2 skillets)
4. Cut in half and serve