July 19, 2011
Inspired by our food trucks, I whipped up a grilled cheese at home

IMG_1410.jpgI have been eating so much food truck grub lately that I haven't done much cooking at home. But after having my umpteenth grilled sandwich from Drewski's, I thought it was time to make my own. Here's a version of my favorite. Generally, I use my own sourdough bread that I make at home, but I was out, so I used some nice whole wheat bread. Don't underestimate the importance of the bread. If it's not substantial enough, the sandwich won't be as good as it could be.

The cheese is a matter of preference. This time, it was equal amounts sharp cheddar and medium-sharp cheddar, all shredded. The shredded cheese gives some volume and lift, and it seems to allow more uniform melting.

I have been using raw (yes, raw unpasteurized) butter lately and it is pretty impressive. Look for it at the Sunday farmers market or at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. The smell alone is wonderful -- like a grassy field. The flavor is deep and almost like a cheese. I coat the outsides of the bread with the raw butter as I heat up the old cast iron pan.

On the inside of the bread, I spread some coarse grain spicy mustard and top it with ground pepper. This seems to complement the flavor of the cheese and gives the sandwich a little zing. Then I add the shredded cheese. Sometimes, I do a double-decker and include a third piece of bread in the middle, with cheese on both sides of it. But I wanted my pants to fit tomorrow, so I went with the traditional two slices.

After the cheese comes the best part -- a smattering of sliced (pickled) jalapenos. I like jalapenos on my cheeseburgers and I like jalapenos on my grilled cheese.

The pan needs to be medium hot -- too hot and you burn the bread before the cheese melts. To help the cheese along, use a lid to trap some of the heat. The raw butter actually seems to burn slower and has a higher smoke point than regular butter, but I'm not sure why.

Grill it up to a golden brown and, voila! Five minutes to make it and about a minute to eat it. It's not going to make me forget about Drewski's and its braised beef (or, for that matter, those battered and deep-fried mac and cheese balls!), but this was good in a pinch.

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