Three Gourmet Grilled Cheese Recipes

gourmet grilled cheese recipes

GOURMET GRILLED CHEESE

In its most basic, fulfilling, loving incarnation with simply cheese, butter, and bread, a grilled cheese is perfect. Though I love a good diner grilled cheese, let’s say you wanted melted cheese, toasty bread, and butter presented another way. What if you wanted to mix things up and made gourmet grilled cheese?

Accessorize!

Think of your grilled cheese as your LBD and the fixings as a way to jazz up your sammie. To take it from day to night, to wear the same beautiful ensemble to multiple soirees. To take it from grilled cheese, to gourmet grilled cheese. 

Below are my favorite ways to relish melty cheese between buttery, toasty bread. Their additions add extra flavor, a little spark, a burst of fresh acidity, or a refreshing twist to everyone’s favorite cheesy, gooey LBD.

A FEW GOURMET GRILLED CHEESE CARDINAL RULES

  1. Don’t be afraid of butter. It is a friend to cheese and bread and will ensure you get a proper toast.
  2. Grate that cheese. It’ll help it melt faster and smoother.
  3. Blend your cheese! If you pick a super melty cheese like fontina or gruyere, pair it with a less-melty cheese like chevre.
  4. Low and slow is the key to getting that bread crisp and cheese oozy. Don’t rush, have a glass of wine while you wait.
  5. Leftovers = your best friend. The carnitas in the recipe below? It was from a to-go box from my favorite Mexican restaurant. Brisket and pot roast also work.
  6. Season your bread with salt and pepper.

Serves 4 people

GOURMET GRILLED CHEESE #1:  Carnitas, cranberry, and cheddar

The trick to this sandwich is picking a younger cheddar aged six months or less so it melts nicely. I use carnitas but have had equally amazing results with pot roast or brisket that I picked up at a deli.

Ingredients:

  • 8 pieces country, rustic bread (I love whole wheat with walnut, sliced about ½” thick)
  • 4 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, grated
  • 6 TBS cranberry sauce
  • 8 oz carnitas
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Lightly butter one side of four pieces of bread (and leave them face-up).  Spread cranberry sauce over the remaining, unbuttered bread slices and also leave facing up. Each sandwich will have one cranberry slice and one buttered slice.
  2. Cover the buttered slices with two oz of grated cheese, then two oz of carnitas. Close the sandwiches so the carnitas are tucked in the middle.
  3. Carefully butter the outside of the now-closed sandwiches, ensuring you cover all the way to the edges of the bread. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Melt 1 tsp of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, place the sandwiches in the pan, cheese-side down, and press firmly with a spatula. After about 2 min, reduce the heat to low. In about five to seven min or when the first side is golden brown, add another tsp of butter to the pan, and flip grilled cheese. Repeat with the second side. Use extra butter as needed.
  5. It’s ready when both pieces of bread are golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

GOURMET GRILLED CHEESE #2:  Tomato, raclette and dijon

If you haven’t had a grilled cheese with tomato before, you’ll flip for this sandwich. The tomato and dijon bring a lightness to the melted cheese and makes it surprisingly refreshing even as the cheese melts and oozes.  Using pre-sliced bread is just fine!

Ingredients:

  • 8 pieces bread (like potato bread or brioche, sliced ½ inch thick)
  • 4 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • 6 tsp dijion mustard
  • 4 oz grated raclette
  • 4 oz grated fontina
  • 8-10 thin slices tomato
  • salt to taste

Steps:

  1. Lightly butter one side of four pieces of bread. Leave bread face-up. Spread dijon over one side of the remaining, unbuttered bread slices and also leave facing up. Each sandwich will have one buttered slice and one slice with dijon.
  2. Cover the buttered slices with 2 oz of grated cheeses then 2 to 3 slices of tomato so the cheese is covered. Close sandwiches.
  3. Butter the outside of the now-closed sandwiches, lightly, being sure to cover even up to the edges. Sprinkle the sandwiches lightly with both salt and pepper.
  4. Melt 1 tsp of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, place the sandwiches in the pan, cheese-side down, and press down with a spatula. After about 2 min, reduce heat to low.
  5. In about five to seven minutes (or when the first side is golden brown), add another tsp of butter to the pan and flip grilled cheese. Repeat with second side. Use any extra butter as needed. The sandwich is ready when both pieces of bread are golden brown and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

GOURMET GRILLED CHEESE #3:  Pickled pepper grilled cheese with olive tapenade

I found my Italian pickled cherry peppers in the Whole Foods olive bar, but you can find them in Italian grocery stores too. Don’t forget—the olive bar is your friend for this one!  You can either chop pitted, mixed olives, or spread your bread with an olive tapenade for extra zest (and some garlic!). Pick a younger fontina that has a bit of bounce when pressed gently..

Ingredients:

  • 8 pieces sliced sourdough bread (pre-sliced works great!)
  • 4 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • 6 tablespoons olive tapenade
  • 28-30 Italian pickled cherry peppers
  • 8 oz grated fontina
  • Salt to taste

Steps:

  1. Lightly butter one side of four pieces of bread. Leave them face-up. Spread the tapenade over one side of each remaining (unbuttered) bread slices and also leave facing up. Each sandwich will have one buttered slice and one tapenade slice.
  2. Cover the buttered slices with 2 oz of grated cheeses. Layer the cheese with 7 or 8 cherry peppers then press the peppers firmly into cheese. Close the sandwich.
  3. Butter the outside of the now-closed sandwiches, lightly, ensuring you spread all the way to the edges of the bread. Sprinkle sandwiches lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Melt 1 tsp of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, place the sandwiches in the pan, cheese-side down, and press down with a spatula. After about 2 min, reduce heat to low.
  5. In about five to seven minutes or when the first side is golden brown, add another tsp of butter to the pan, and flip grilled cheese. Repeat with the second side. Use any extra butter as needed. The sandwich is ready when both pieces of bread are golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Recipe by guest contributor Lindsay Kinder of Food La La in collaboration with Kirstin Jackson (Recipes written by Kirstin Jackson of It’s Not You It’s Brie). Photography by Erica Garlieb.

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