When I decided to create a grilled cheese sandwich, I was determined to make it as tasty as possible. I figured that I needed to use the most flavorful ingredients that would blend to complement one another. The only component that I knew had to be included was a couple strips of my homemade bacon. Garlic and black pepper contribute a distinct savoriness that melds with the subtle smoke that permeates each morsel of porky goodness.
When I sought out cheese to work with the bacon, I expected I would need more than one. I visited the Zingerman’s Creamery to see what my options might be. The cheesemonger there was extremely helpful and offered me tastes of every choice that I requested. I settled on a combination of a smoked blue cheese (Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue) and a Toma (Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company). The smoked blue cheese has the deep earthiness one expects from a blue cheese, but there is a hint of caramel that brings a surprising bit of sweetness. The Toma provides a slightly nutty and buttery essence that, when paired with the Smokey Blue, definitely met the challenge of standing up to the bacon.
For bread, I chose the whole wheat farm loaf from Zingerman’s Bakehouse. It is a firm, fairly dense bread that contributes its own nuttiness when buttered and grilled. The butter I used is Kerrygold. That is my go to choice whenever I am wanting to make something extra-ordinary. One final ingredient that I opted to include was sauteed red onion. I expected the combination of sweet and spicy bite the onion brings would complete the profile of flavors.
I don’t have a fancy panini press, so I used what I do have, a George Foreman grill. Being able to cook both slices of bread simultaneously make it possible to not have to worry about flipping the sandwich and spilling the ingredients all over a pan and making a big mess. It also makes attractive grill marks on the slices of bread as they soak up the browning butter while the cheeses melt into molten yumminess.
I made two of these sandwiches, one for me and one for my wife. Although she is not a huge fan of blue cheese, she liked this sandwich so much that she wanted another. While I liked the complex flavor combination, I suggested that the one improvement I could imagine would be a bit of dijon mustard to give a bit of an acidic tang.
Overall, I was very pleased with the fruits of my labor. Aristotle is credited for coining the phrase, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” This sandwich was definitely an example of just that.