Delicious and Innovative Grilled-Cheese Recipes: Part I

By  April 04, 2011

Grilled cheese is a simple concept, yet the many, varied ways to craft the ever popular sandwich are enough to keep you occupied in the kitchen with fun, and innovative new concepts. This month, choose some bread and your favorite Wisconsin Cheese, and join the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board in celebrating National Grilled Cheese Month.

The WMMB is joining forces with grilled cheese expert and author Laura Werlin. Werlin’s newly available cookbook Grilled Cheese, Please features 50 new recipes—from basic to creative, from nostalgic to modern, from ethnic to all-American, and from savory to sweet. So get your spatula ready for flipping, and test out her new, fresh-from-the-skillet, grilled cheese creations…

The Guacamole-and-Chips Grilled Cheese
Ingredients: 8 slices bacon; 8 large tortilla chips (about 2 ounces); 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature; 8 slices sourdough bread; 1/2 cup guacamole; 2 tablespoons peeled, seeded, finely diced Roma tomato; 4 ounces Wisconsin Colby Cheese, coarsely grated; 4 ounces Wisconsin Monterey Jack Cheese, coarsely grated; and 4 ounces goat cheese

Line a plate with paper towels. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until very crisp. Drain the bacon on the paper towels. Remove the bacon fat from the pan and wipe the pan with a paper towel, but do not wash it. Set aside.

To make the tortilla chip butter, put the chips in the bowl of a food processor and process until the texture is very fine, similar to sand. Alternatively, place the chips in a sturdy plastic bag. Using a meat mallet or other heavy object, pound the chips until they are the texture of sand.

Put the butter in a medium bowl and add the ground chips. Using a fork, work the chip “sand” and butter together until well mixed. The mixture will be somewhat stiff.

To assemble: Spread the butter mixture on one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices, butter-chip mixture side down, on your work surface. Spread 2 tablespoons of the guacamole on each slice of bread. Sprinkle the tomato on top of the guacamole, if using. Follow with the Colby and Monterey Jack Cheeses. Dot with small pieces of the goat cheese. Finish by placing two bacon pieces on each sandwich. Top with remaining bread slices, buttered side up.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches into the pan, cover, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the undersides are golden brown. Watch carefully because the chips in the butter can burn easily. Turn the sandwiches, pressing each one firmly with a spatula to compress the filling slightly. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the undersides are well browned. Turn the sandwiches once more, press firmly with the spatula again, cook for 1 minute, and remove from the pan. Let cool 5 minutes. Cut in half and serve.

Creamy, Smoky, Cheesy Croissant
Ingredients: 6 tablespoons mayonnaise; 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard; 2 medium cloves garlic, minced; 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary; salt; 4 large croissants, cut in half lengthwise; 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped; 6 ounces Wisconsin Brie Cheese, rind removed; 6 ounces Wisconsin Swiss Cheese, coarsely grated; 4 (1-ounce) slices smoked turkey

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, and rosemary. Add a little salt to taste. Set aside for up to 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 1 day refrigerated.

To assemble: Place the bottom half of each croissant on your work surface, cut side up. Spread 2 tablespoons of the mayonnaise mixture on each croissant half followed by the sun-dried tomatoes. Lay the Brie slices on top, followed by the Swiss Cheese and turkey slices. Top with the remaining croissant halves, cut side down.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over a medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches into the pan, cover, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown. Carefully turn the sandwiches, pressing each one with a spatula to compress the bread and filling. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the undersides are golden brown. Turn the sandwiches once more, press with the spatula again, cook for 1 minute, and remove from the pan. Let cool 5 minutes. Cut in half and serve.

Double Cheddar & Tomato Jam
Ingredients: 12 ounces Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese; 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature; 8 sandwich-size slices sourdough; 6 tablespoons; Tomato Jam (see recipe below)

Using the very small holes of a box grater or other similar-size grating device, finely grate 6 ounces of the Cheddar. Place the cheese in a small bowl. Add the butter and, using the back of a fork, mash the mixture until the cheese is well incorporated into the butter.

Using the large holes of a box grater or other similar-size grating device, grate the remaining cheese.

To assemble: Spread the Cheddar-butter mixture on one side of each of the bread slices.

Place 4 slices of bread, buttered side down, on your work surface.  Spread 1½ tablespoons of jam on each slice. Distribute the cheese, and top with remaining bread slices, buttered side up.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches into the pan, cover, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown. Turn the sandwiches, pressing each one firmly with a spatula to flatten slightly. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the undersides are well browned (watch carefully because the cheese on the outside of the bread can darken quickly). Turn the sandwiches once more, press firmly with the spatula again, cook for 1 minute, and remove from the pan. Let cool for 5 minutes. Cut in half and serve.

Tomato Jam
Ingredients: 6 large ripe tomatoes (about 1 ½ pounds) peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped; 1 clove garlic, finely chopped; 1/4 cup red wine vinegar;
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar; Salt

Place all the ingredients in a medium-size saucepan over medium-low heat. The mixture should bubble ever so slightly but not boil. Cook for about 1 hour, or until the jam has thickened and most of the liquid has evaporated. Let cool.

Mozzarella with Crispy Prosciutto and Broccoli Rabe Grilled Cheese
Ingredients: 8 thin slices prosciutto (about 4 ounces); 1/4 cup olive oil; 12 ounces broccoli rabe (about 1 bunch), tough stems removed and coarsely chopped; 1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice; 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes; 1/8 teaspoon salt; 8 sandwich-size slices Italian bread; 8 ounces Wisconsin Mozzarella, coarsely grated

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and line a plate with paper towels. Add the prosciutto slices (you may need to do this in batches), and cook until browned and crisp, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to the paper towels to drain. The prosciutto will become crisper as it cools.

Add enough oil to make 2 tablespoons fat in the pan over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the broccoli rabe. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, tender, and bright green yet caramelized around a few of the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. (Add water to the pan if it seems dry). Add the lemon juice, pepper flakes and salt and toss to coat. Transfer the broccoli rabe to a plate. Wipe out the skillet but don’t wash it.

To assemble: Brush the remaining oil on one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices of bread, oil side down, on your work surface. Distribute the broccoli rabe and follow with the prosciutto. Pile the cheese on top, compressing it with your hand if necessary, and top with the remaining bread slices, oil side up.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches into the pan, cover, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the undersides are golden brown. Turn the sandwiches, pressing each one firmly with a spatula to flatten slightly. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the undersides are well browned. Remove the cover, turn the sandwiches once more and press firmly with the spatula once again. Cook for 1 minute or until the cheese has melted completely. Remove from the pan and let cool 2 to 3 minutes. Cut in half and serve.

The Wisconsonite
Ingredients: 1/4 cup cranberry sauce; 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard; 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature; 8 sandwich-size slices dark rye or marble bread;8 ounces Wisconsin Colby Cheese; 2 ounces Wisconsin Blue Cheese, coarsely crumbled

In a small bowl, mix the cranberry sauce and mustard together.

To assemble: Spread the butter on one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices of bread, buttered side down, on your work surface. Spread the cranberry mixture on the bread. Distribute the Colby and crumble the Blue Cheese over the Colby. Top with remaining bread slices, buttered side up.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches into the pan, cover, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the undersides are have darkened and become crisp. Turn the sandwiches, pressing each one firmly with a spatula to flatten slightly. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the undersides are crisp. Remove the cover, turn the sandwiches once more and press firmly with the spatula once again. Cook for 1 minute, or until the cheese has melted completely. (You might have to peek inside to make sure). Remove from the pan and let cool 5 minutes. Cut in half and serve.