Make yourself a gourmet grilled cheese

Use fancy cheeses, says Sobocinski. Cheese can be intimidating, but: “When we put it in somethingnostalgic, it allows people to get more adventurous.”

The method

In order to avoid dark spots and make a bunch of sandwiches at the same time, Sobocinski uses the open-face method. Butter one side of a each bread slice. Throw half a tablespoon of butter into a hot cast iron skillet, add bread, butter side down, and cook. Press the bread lightly into the pan so that it browns evenly. “If you place your bread in a cold pan, it’ll stick,” warns Sobocinski.  “You want it GBD: golden brown and delicious.” Preheat your oven to 375-400 degrees. Grate your cheese onto both slices of bread. Pop them into the oven and bake. Take them out, assemble and let your sandwich sit for a minute before cutting. This way the molten goodness doesn’t all ooze out.

The bread

Breads with sugar, like country white or brioche, burn quickly. So Sobocinski recommends using sourdough or rye. “They’re very forgiving,” he says. He recommends cutting ¼-inch slices.

The pairing

When serving gooey grilled cheeses, Sobocinski recommends balancing the fatty, buttery taste with acidic items such as whole grain mustard and cornichons, plus wines such as St. Francis’ Chardonnay. “This way, every bite’s not as heavy,” he says.

The cheese

Shredded cheese melts more evenly and faster, says Sobocinski. He likes using a combination of different flavors and mixes a batch of the following for the sandwiches served in his award-winning restaurant Caseus Fromagerie: comte, gruyere, raclette, provolone, mozzarella, a two-year Gouda, good sharp Vermont cheddar and emmental.  For you home chefs, he suggests mixing equals parts comte (nutty flavor), cheddar (sweet sharpness) and provolone (stringy texture).

Sharp cheddar, cayenned apples and bacon on raisin bread
Paired with Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon

Yield 2 Sandwiches

6 slices applewood smoked bacon
6 oz of sharp cheddar, grated into medium/large shreds   
1 Granny Smith apple (or other tart apple) cored, peeled and cut into ¼ inch disk slices
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy!)
4  – 1/2 inch slices of raisin bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degree F
Lay the bacon out onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Cook in the oven for 12-17 minutes or until nicely browned and crisp.  
Remove bacon from sheet pan onto a dish lined with paper towel and allow to drain and cool.
Butter one side of each of the slices of raisin bread equally with the 2 tablespoons of butter.
Assemble the sandwiches by placing a quarter of the shredded cheddar on the unbuttered side of one slice of bread, then 2 slices of apple, a pinch of cayenne (or more if you like) then 3 slices of crisp bacon, then more shredded cheddar, all topped off with raisin bread, butted side facing out.
In a large sauté pan cook the sandwiches on one side until golden brown, flip and finish cooking in the preheated oven until nicely melted through. Allow sandwiches to rest for 3 minutes before cutting or eating. 

Fresh chevre, caramelized pear, pickled ginger and honey on sourdough Paired with Sonoma County Chardonnay

Yield 2 sandwiches (great cut into quarters for an appetizer for 8 ppl)

3 tablespoon unsalted butter  
1 large ripe pear, skin removed, cored and cut into 16 equal slices  
1 tablespoon pickled ginger, drained and finely chopped (from Asian isle in grocery store)
2 teaspoons honey
6 oz fresh goat’s milk chevre
4 slices of sourdough bread ¼ inch thick
Sprig of fresh rosemary

In a small sauté pan add 1 tablespoon of the butter, save the remaining 2 tablespoons for later.

Heat the butter over medium heat until it starts to foam, add the pear slices, the pickled ginger and the honey.

Allow to cook for about 5-7 minutes until the pear begins to color lightly and soften.

Remove pears and any liquids into a bowl and let sit.

Equally spread the fresh goat’s milk chevre onto one side of each slice of bread. 

Assemble the sandwiches by adding 4-6 slices of the cooked pears to the goat’s milk chevre side of the bread then topping with another slice of bread cheese side down. Reserve the liquids and extra pear slices for garnish.

Using the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, equally spread onto the outsides of each sandwich.

In a large sauté pan over a medium flame toast the sandwiches to a deep golden brown on each side.

Allow sandwiches to rest for 3 minutes before cutting or eating.

Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary and any remaining honey and pickled ginger left over.

Sharp cheddar, cayenned apples and bacon on raisin bread

Paired with St. Francis Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon

Yield: Two sandwiches

6  slices applewood smoked bacon
6 oz. sharp cheddar, grated into medium/large shreds   
1 Granny Smith apple (or other tart apple) cored, peeled and cut into ¼-inch disk slices
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like spice!)
4 ½-inch-thick slices of raisin bread
2  tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions
   
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lay the bacon out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Cook in the oven for 12-17 minutes or until nicely browned and crisp. 

Remove bacon from sheet pan; set it on a dish lined with paper towels and allow it to drain and cool.

Butter one side of each of the slices of raisin bread equally with the 2 tablespoons of butter.

Assemble the sandwiches by placing a quarter of the shredded cheddar on the unbuttered side of one slice of bread, then two slices of apple, a pinch of cayenne (or more if you like), then three slices of crisp bacon, then more shredded cheddar, all topped off with raisin bread, buttered side facing out.

In a large saute pan, cook the sandwiches on one side until golden brown, flip and finish cooking in the preheated oven until nicely melted through. Allow sandwiches to rest for three minutes before cutting or eating. 


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