Grilled Cheese Month

I can’t let April pass without celebrating Grilled Cheese Month. Grilled cheese is probably my favorite sandwich. It is, at least, the only one I regularly make. I like mine with tomato, and sometimes add bacon if I have any that’s already cooked, although for one of the sandwiches pictured below I did cook up some smoked pancetta. I’m not creative about the type of cheese, but I do usually have at least five or six kinds on hand. Muenster was the childhood favorite in my family, but now I’m more likely to use pepper jack, smoked Gouda, Swiss, cheddar…even the occasional – gasp! – American cheese, if I had recently broken down and bought some for some random culinary experiment.

A recent email from Benchmark Resorts & Hotels® and Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels® presented eleven grilled cheese sandwiches from their chefs. The one below is from Chef CJ Chambers at the Heldrich Hotel up New Brunswick and it sounds delicious. Note the Bacon Jam – several of the recipes I received make use of various jams, something I should try at home. I have some nice fig jam in the fridge, for instance. And the idea of putting short rib meat in the sandwich? I might have dismissed this if I hadn’t recently fallen in love with the wonderfully sloppy braised beef barbacoa sandwich (torta) at The Taco Truck in the Princeton Shopping Center. Oh yeah.

Grilled Cheese

Serves 6

6 ea. 2 oz. sliced Farm House White Cheddar

12 slices brioche bread

2 oz. Braised Short Rib (shredded)

1 oz. Bacon Jam (recipe below)

2 oz. Butter (room temperature)

Spread one side of each piece of brioche bread with bacon jam, then layer it with sliced cheddar cheese and top with shredded short ribs. Sandwich together and spread room temperature butter on outer sides of bread and place onto a preheated pan or electric griddle on medium heat. Cook until bread is toasted golden brown and cheese is melted and heated through. Place on cutting board and cut into two triangle and serve with house cut fries (recipe below).

Bacon Jam

1 pound bacon (chopped)

1 ea. onion (chopped)

½ c. brown sugar

1 c. black coffee

½ c apple cider vinegar

½ c. maple syrup

In a preheated medium size skillet place bacon and render out fat until bacon is crispy. Remove bacon and reserve, place onions in pan and cook until translucent about 5-6 minutes. Place remaining ingredients into the pan (including cooked bacon) and bring to a boil and stir. Reduce heat to medium and stir frequently to prevent from sticking. Cook mixture for about 30 minutes or until mixture has reduced by half. Place mixture into a shallow dish and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in a seal container in refrigerator.

House Cut Fries

3 ea. Idaho Potato

½ gal. Canola Oil

1 tsp. Kosher Salt

Wash potatoes and cut into ¼ inch slices and cut again into ¼ inch strips. This also can be done by using a mandolin. Place cut potatoes into a bowl and cover with cold water. Allow to sit in water for at least 5 minutes to remove some of the starch. Drain potato and pat dry with paper towels. In a heavy bottom pot fill about 4-5 inches high leaving enough room to not over boil. Using a frying thermometer heat oil to 375 degrees. Carefully add potatoes into the hot oil and par cook potatoes for about 3 minutes. Remove from oil and allow to drain and cool. Return fries to the hot oil and cook again for about 4 minutes until crispy and golden brown. Remove from oil and allow to drain then place into a bowl and toss with kosher salt, serve immediately.

I almost always snap a picture of my grilled cheese sandwiches, so here’s a little hall of fame (shame?) slide show, below.

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