Every knows the best part of a grilled cheese sandwich (lasagna, gratin, mac & cheese, …) are the bits where the cheese gets brown and crispy. So one night I says to myself, why can't there be more crispy? What happens if I just make a frico (cheese crisp) right there in the skillet and weld it to my already delicious grilled cheese? Would this not be a fine extension of an already superb late supper?
The answer was a resounding yes. My wife and I have been enjoying these SuperFricos (tm occasionally for months now, and I figured it was time to share. Just as I was planning to make this sandwich again and actually photograph them so I could write a post, I get this press release:
GRILLED CHEESE RECIPE CONTEST
SEATTLE – March 10, 2010 – The Seattle Cheese Festival is conducting a recipe search for the best grilled cheese sandwich. The contest is open to home cooks and professional chefs. The winner will be invited to demonstrate the recipe during a cooking demo at the Seattle Cheese Festival, which takes place at Pike Place Market on May 15 and 16, 2010. The winning sandwich will be featured online at www.seattlecheesefestival.com and on the menu at the café at DeLaurenti Food & Wine.
Are you kidding me? Clearly the dairy gods have spoken. So I'll give you the recipe here, and enter it in the contest too.
By the way, folks often ask me about how to know whether cheese uses animal, vegetable, or microbial rennet. The best way to find out is to ask the manufacturer. Sargento, for example, has a FAQ about their all natural cheese.
SuperFrico Grilled Cheese
Vegetarian; not vegan nor gluten-free (although feel free to try substitutions and comment if they are good)
Makes one sandwich
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 thin slices of artisan sourdough bread (Baker Street Sourdough from Tall Grass is a personal favorite)
- 1/2 cup grated aged provolone cheese or oak-smoked cheddar
- 3 tablespoons Beecher's Flagship Cheddar mixed with 2 teaspoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over a medium or slightly hotter flame.
- Add the slices of bread. I like to lightly moisten them with the butter on one side, then flip them over.
- Top one slice of bread with the provolone or oak-smoked cheddar and cover with the other slice of bread. Press down firmly. I use another, smaller skillet for that. Cook until golden brown on both sides, flipping a couple of times and pressing occasionally.
- When the basic grilled cheese is done, remove it from the pan. Lower the heat to medium. If the pan seems very dry, melt a touch more butter in it. Sprinkle the mixed Flagship and Parmigiano Reggiano in the still-hot skillet, in a shape roughly the same as the sandwich but a little larger.
- Now watch closely, as the cheese melts. You'll see the fat start to cook out and the cheese begin to brown and crisp. Before this process is complete, put the sandwich back on top and press down to weld the frico to the bread.
- Let cook for one more minute, then using a thin spatula, lift out the sandwich, flip, cut in half, and serve. If there are more crispy bits left in the skillet, retrieve them and place on top of the sandwich.