If you don’t like making and eating grilled cheese sandwiches, then you’re either lactose intolerant or you hate America, but either way, we probably wouldn’t get along. Whether it’s with an old-school, dorm-room-sized George Foreman grill and Kraft Singles, or on a professional stove with homemade bread and imported cheese, everyone has their idea of the quintessential grilled cheese sandwich. We’re here to offer some guidance and advice to elevate your grilled cheese game to the next level.

This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a discussion, because, let’s face it, we’re not reinventing the wheel here. We’re making grilled cheese, which is exactly that: Melted cheese on toast. We’re giving you the freedom to butter up some fresh bread, melt an unnecessary amount of cheese, and dive face first into dairy/carb heavy combos until you’re so uncomfortably full that you disgust yourself. We offer a few suggestions below that involve roasted garlic pesto, fresh fig chutney, and a variety of cheese and bread to spark some new ideas.

Quick tip: Don’t be shy with the butter. There’s no “Skinny Girl” version of grilled cheese, unless you want it to taste like warm chalk and cardboard. Load up on the butter, and go melt your heart out.

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Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Bread – Whatever kind you like
Cheese – Go nuts
Sliced ham
Mushrooms
1 bulb garlic
Avocado
Tomato
Vidalia onion, sliced thin
Black beans
Basil
Grated pecorino/parmesan cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil
Butter
Mustard

For the pesto
2 cloves roasted garlic
1 Bunch of fresh basil
½ cup grated pecorino romano
3 tbsp EVOO
Handful of pine nuts

For the chutney
10-12 ripe figs
1 apple, sliced thin
½ cup brown sugar
3 cups dry red wine
½ cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
Pinch of cloves
Red pepper flakes
Sea salt

Start off by making the roasted garlic pesto and the fig chutney. Slice the top off a whole bulb of garlic and season with salt, pepper, a drizzle of EVOO, and 1 tbsp butter. Wrap the garlic bulb in aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 425° for 25 minutes. While the garlic is roasting, combine the chutney ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the alcohol from the wine has burned off, bring down to a simmer and mix the ingredients well until the sauce thickens. Mash/blend the cooked figs and apples until the mixture is spreadable and then let stand until cool. In a food processor or blender, combine the pesto ingredients and pulse until mixed well and add more EVOO if necessary.

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Prepare the sandwich filling ingredients by sautéing the onion and mushrooms in butter and EVOO, with salt, pepper, and honey (optional, but delicious). Slice the avocado and pre-grill the ham if desired.

avocado

To make the roasted garlic butter, combine the remaining cloves of roasted garlic with 4 tbsp butter, black pepper, and sea salt. Heat the mixture and mash the roasted garlic until the butter is spreadable. Use this butter on both sides of your bread, pile on whatever ingredients you want, grill/sear your sandwich quickly, and then finish off in the oven until the cheese is entirely melted.

Suggested combos

Wine bread. Fig chutney. Goat cheese. Caramelized onions. Roasted garlic butter.

Rosemary roll. Roasted garlic pesto. Mozzarella. Blue cheese. Grilled ham. Roasted garlic butter.

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Sourdough bread. Chipotle Gouda. Cheddar. Tomato. Grilled ham. Caramelized onions. Roasted garlic butter.

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Sourdough bread. Roasted garlic pesto. Goat cheese. Sautéed mushrooms. Mozzarella. Roasted garlic butter.

Wine bread. Black beans. Chipotle Gouda. Avocado. Tomato. Cheddar. Mustard.

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