Say Cheese!

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The folks at Jo’s make a grilled cheese that will put even your momma’s version to shame. OK, so no one can beat a mother’s love in the form of a warm sandwich, but Jo’s griddled three-cheese sandwich is the perfect rendition of a classic. Melted Havarti, Swiss and cheddar give depth to the garlicky herbed aioli sourdough. Butter and crumbs being licked off fingers and long stretchy strings of three cheeses make this normal-sized sandwich feel larger than life. Bonus: There is a toasted version made with American on the kids’ menu.

Believe it or not, your mom didn’t invent the grilled cheese. Food historians generally agree that hot bread- and- cheese dishes date back to ancient Rome. The sandwich’s American ori- gins began in the 1920s when affordable sliced bread and American cheese became popular. Government-issue cookbooks show World War II Navy cooks broiling hundreds of these sand- wiches, made with slices of American cheese. It was a depression-era hit: Economical and easy to make, it met government nutrition standards and satisfied hungry service members. It wasn’t long until the grilled cheese moved from ships’ kitchens to counter- tops across the nation, soothing young children on cold, rainy afternoons and bringing college freshmen out of their dorm rooms for a slice of evening com- fort reminding them of home.

ELEMENTS

The grilled cheese is simple in its origin but leaves plenty of space for creative genius. Go out for a gourmet version and analyze the chef’s inten- tions, or stay in and get everyone involved. Let each member of your family or your friends choose an element: Someone picks the bread, a few folks choose a cheese, and everyone can have their own extras to add during construction.

CHEESE

Does it really matter if the cheese comes from a goat, sheep, or cow? Some grillers swear by the orange globs they grew up savoring, while others take a leap of faith and pile a crumbly blue between two slices. Grated cheese melts easier than chunks or thick slices. Don’t cook it for too long, or the cheese cultures will break down into oils, making for a soggy mess. Mix

and match cheese pairings or pile on your favorite fromage.

BREAD

Sourdough is popular, as is a hearty grain-packed pair of slices. What happens when you dare to up the ante with a house-made brioche? Only wonderful things. Experiment with something funky from the farmer’s market, or throw back and get a loaf of Wonder.

METHOD

If this is your first foray into the grilling of cheesy goodness, you’ve got a few choices. The stovetop or griddle method is most popular. Melt a good amount of butter on a low, even source of heat—too hot and the bread will burn before the insides get a chance to melt. Let one side get golden before flipping, and resist the urge to press too much with your spatula, everything will come together. The finished product should rest for a minute so all the flavors can appropriately marry—and to help prevent burning the roof of your mouth when you dig in. If you have a Panini press, that’s a viable option—just don’t apply so much pressure that the sand- wich becomes flat and tough. If you’re feeling adventurous, bring your fixings outdoors and try your hand at a real grilled cheese. Be sure you’re using a hearty enough bread to sustain the rus- tic method and remember to keep that flame down.

EXTRAS

It’s still a grilled cheese if you add a slice of salami. The addition of pesto or other savory spreads doesn’t stray too far from the original and adds a soft, savory center. Save any leftover roasted veggies from dinner and pile them on with the cheese; they’ll heat up as the cheese melts and amp up the nutritional value.

GRILLED CHEESE RECIPE

2 slices of your favorite sandwich bread 2 oz herbed goat cheese (Try Pure Luck) 1 tbsp hot pepper jelly
Cooking spray or butter

  1. Preheat oven to 375 ̊F
  2. Coat a medium-sized pan withcooking spray or butter the outsideof each slice of bread.
  3. Spread cheese on the inside of oneslice and jelly on the other.
  4. Place sandwich in the heated pan, flipping once until the outside ofeach slice is brown.
  5. Transfer sandwich to baking sheet.Place in hot oven for one minute oneach side. Slice and serve hot.

Serves one. Multiply ingredients as needed to feed the hungry!

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