In my mind, the grilled cheese is much like pizza. It seems simple enough, but there are some tricks to it which become immediately apparent if you’ve ever had a fantastic one or tried to make a great one.
At the same time, it’s pretty hard to make a terrible one.
I’ve been leafing through the new cookbook by Meagan Micozzi (Scarletta Bakes) called The New Southwest. This cookbook was really up my alley because I’m from New Mexico originally and that style of food is one of my top three.
I bookmarked a bunch of recipes I want to try but let you guys vote on the one I would make this week. It was actually a tie, so I broke the tie by asking the question: Are you a grilled cheese? If the answer is yes, then you win the tiebreaker.
So here we are!
1) For mustard, bring vinegar and water to a slight simmer in a small pan, then pour over mustard and cumin seeds. Let sit overnight at room temperature.
2) Add soaked seeds to a food processor with a dash of fresh vinegar. Add other mustard ingredients and pulse until it resembles a coarse paste. Use mustard immediately or store in the fridge for a few weeks.
3) To make sandwich, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices and lay out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4) Bake tomatoes for 60-75 minutes until they are crinkled and browned around the edges. Most of the moisture should be evaporated.
5) Meanwhile, stir together honey and butter.
6) To make a sandwich, slather one piece of bread with honey butter and place buttered-side down in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Top with a good spread of the chipotle mustard mixture, a few slices of cheese, and a handful of roasted tomatoes. Top with a second piece of bread and spread the top of the sandwich with honey butter.
7) Cook sandwich for 3-4 minutes per side until bread is toasted and cheese is just melted. Serve immediately!
Recipe from The New Southwest.
A Mustard Paste
This sandwich definitely wins the award for the most time I’ve spent making a grilled cheese sandwich thanks to making mustard from scratch. It was worth it in my opinion because I’m a mustard lover, but I think you could get away with stirring a few teaspoons of chipotle pepper spice into your favorite stone-ground mustard and be in decent shape.
Anyway, assuming you want to go all the way, you’ll need a lot of mustard seeds.
Soak the mustard seeds and coriander seeds in hot vinegar and water (I just heated them until they were steaming). Heating them means you only have to soak the mustard for a day instead of two days. It speeds up the process a bit.
After a day of soaking at room temperature, add the other mustard ingredients to the soaked seeds along with this stuff:
I used crushed, but you could also use ground. If you use ground, use less of it since it will do a better job of distributing through the mustard.
Add everything to a food processor and start pulsing it until it resembles a coarse paste. You could add some water or a drizzle of extra vinegar to this if you want to thin it out, but I very much liked it as a thick paste.
It’s mustard that requires a knife.
Making the Sandwich
So the mustard takes a day and the next topping takes over an hour. Again, this may sound like a lot of work for a grilled cheese sandwich, but stay with me people.
This topping is slow-roasted plum tomatoes. In my opinion, these completely make the sandwich. All you have to do is slice them into 1/4-inch slices and lay them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake them at 350 degrees F. for 60-75 minutes.
The end result will be these crinkled beautiful things that are slightly sweet and salty and possibly the perfect sandwich add.
While all this is happening, mix some honey in with some unsalted butter. As opposed to the tomatoes and mustard, this takes approximately 30 seconds.
When your mustard is done and your tomatoes are roasted, spread some of that delicious honey butter on a piece of bread and stick it, buttered-side down in a cold skillet.
Smear on some of that mustard paste (use a heavy hand). Then add some cheese slices. You can use any cheese really. I used some colby jack that I had in the fridge, but any cheddar would work as well. The original recipe calls for Chihuahua cheese which I couldn’t find.
Top with a handful of the roasted tomatoes and the other piece of bread.
Cook this sucker over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes per side. The biggest mistake people make with grilled cheeses is cooking them too hot which will burn the bread before the cheese is melted.
This is about perfect!
This sandwich is messy and delicious. The chipotle flavor is actually kind of subtle but pairs really nicely with the sweet tomatoes and honey flavors on the bread.
And the good news? You’ll probably have some mustard paste left over which you can put on damn near anything.
I like this book a lot. It has some standard Mexican recipes (like tortillas and salsa), but also ramps them up a bit using some modern touches. Plus, the photos are beautiful and recipes well-written and easy to follow.
I’m giving out two copies of the book to you lovely readers! Just leave a comment answering what your favorite Mexican food is and I’ll pick two comments at random a week from today (12/19).
Good luck and happy grilled cheesing!