What We’re Reading This Week: The Great Grilled Cheese Book: Grown-Up Recipes for a Childhood Classic

Up your grilled cheese game with these delicious upgrades on the old-school favorite.

The Great Grilled Cheese Book: Grown-Up Recipes for a Childhood Classic by Eric Greenspan, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Photography Colin Price © 2018

Start with the Classic (white bread with American cheese) before working your way up to more elaborate sandwiches like the Champ, Greenspan’s signature grilled Taleggio and short rib extravaganza, or the Elvis, made with thick-cut bacon, bananas, and a savory spread of fresh goat cheese, peanut butter, and, yes, bacon grease.

In addition to sandwiches, there are dozens of recipes for toppings and condiments including pickled vegetables, date marmalade, pineapple-jalapeno relish, even fried chickpeas, which add a salty crunch to a lamb-feta combo Greenspan calls the Greek. And while many of the recipes in the book are fairly involved, the author fully intends for readers to use the recipes as a point of reference – not a bible. “At the end of the day, don’t overthink it,” cautions the author. “The recipes are all meant to be playful.” Read on for three of Greenspan’s tastiest grilled cheese recipes.

Colin Price © 2018

The Simple Life

Great ingredients and a classic flavor combination are sometimes all you need for an extraordinary sandwich, says chef Greenspan, who recommends buying the finest cheese and ham available. He likes to us cave-aged Grafton Village Cheddar from Vermont and Father’s Country Hams in Bremen, Kentucky, where the family has been curing its own pork since 1945.

  • 2 crowns broccoli (cut into florets)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 8 slices potato bread
  • 12 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese (cut into 12 equal slices)
  • 8 ounces country ham (cut into 8 equal slices)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  1. To roast broccoli, preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl, add broccoli, oil, and garlic and toss to coat broccoli evenly. Transfer to a large baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, until broccoli and garlic are tender and slightly charred, about 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Use a fork to crush broccoli and garlic, then mix garlic and oil with broccoli until fully incorporated.
  2. Place 4 bread slices on a clean work surface. Layer bread with 2 cheese slices, one-fourth of the broccoli, 2 ham slices, and a third cheese slice. Close the sandwiches with the remaining bread slices.
  3. Line a large platter with paper towels. In a large skillet over high heat, melt butter. Reduce heat to low, add sandwiches, and cook, turning once, until browned and crisp on both sides and cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer sandwiches to prepared platter to blot excess grease. Cut sandwiches in half and serve immediately.

 

Colin Price © 2018

The Elvis

All hail the king! Chef Greenspan – whose been known to don a white onesie with a cape and belt out his favorite Elvis songs with a rock-and-roll quartet – created this grilled goat-cheese rendition of Elvis Presley’s favorite peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwich as an homage to the late singer.

  • 8 slices of good-quality bacon
  • 8 slices white bread
  • 12 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat (from cooking bacon)
  • 2 bananas (peeled and sliced into coins)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a large wire rack on a sheet pan. Line a platter with paper towels and set aside. Arrange bacon slices, well spaced, on the rack, and cook until bacon is crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. (Using a rack is key to the bacon remaining crisp in your grilled cheese.). Transfer bacon to prepared platter to drain, and reserve 2 tablespoons bacon fat.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine peanut butter and goat cheese, and stir just until soft and well mixed. Transfer mixture to a food processor, add reserved bacon fat, and process until spread is smooth.
  3. Place 4 bread slices on a clean work surface. Slather one-fourth of goat cheese-peanut butter spread on each, then layer with ¼ of banana slices and 2 slices bacon. Top with remaining bread slices.
  4. Line a large platter with paper towels. In a large skillet over high heat, melt butter. Reduce heat to low, add sandwiches, and cook, turning once, until browned and crisp on both sides and cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer sandwiches to prepared platter to blot excess grease. Cut sandwiches in half and serve immediately.

Colin Price © 2018

 

The Frenchie

This grilled cheese is inspired by one of Greenspan’s favorite tapas, a date stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in bacon. “The fatty and salty ham, the sweet date, and the acidity and sharpness of the blue cheese wake up every taste sensation in preparation for the great meal to come,” says the chef. “You’ll end up with more marmalade than you need for the sandwiches, but it will keep well in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks and is delicious on nearly everything,” Greenstein adds.

  • DATE MARMALADE
  • 8 ounces pitted dates
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 baguette (quartered and split horizontally)
  • 1 pound blue cheese (crumbled)
  • 8 thin slices dry-cured ham (such as prosciutto or serrano)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. To make the marmalade, in a small saucepan over medium heat, add dates and pomegranate juice and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until dates are soft and tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor and process until a chunky puree forms.
  2. Place 4 baguette slices, cut side down, on a clean work surface. Spread ¼ cup of marmalade on bread, top with 2 ounces of cheese (6 to 7 tablespoons), then 2 ham slices, and finally another 2 ounces of the cheese. Top with remaining baguette slices, cut sides up.
  3. Line a large platter with paper towels. In a large skillet over high heat, melt butter. Reduce heat to low, add sandwiches, and cook, turning once, until browned and crisp on both sides and cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer sandwiches to prepared platter to blot excess grease. Cut sandwiches in half and serve immediately.

Recipes reprinted with permission from The Great Grilled Cheese Book: Grown-Up Recipes for a Childhood Classic by Eric Greenspan, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

 

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