Chefs prepare grilled cheese sandwiches with an assortment of
high-quality ingredients for mature audiences.
By Melanie Wolkoff Wachsman
SURE, grilled cheese is a favorite
option on children’s menus, but it doesn’t
have to be limited to those ages 12 and
under—or nostalgic patrons. Many chefs
place a more grownup version of grilled
cheese on their menus, using adult-friendly
ingredients and tweaks.
“The bread is always important, as it really
starts the process of how the sandwich
will hold up and how it will chew,” says
Michael Smith, executive chef/owner
of Michael Smith and Extra Virgin, both
located in Kansas City, Mo.
At Graze, Madison, Wis., chef/owner
Tory Miller menus The Bianca, a dessert
grilled cheese featuring dulce de leche,
mascarpone and raspberry preserves
between cinnamon raisin bread.
Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
recommends Smith. “The meat has to be
thin enough that you can bite through it.
If you add any crispy vegetable element,
it can’t be too watery.”
Creating a more sophisticated grilled
cheese is easy. One simple solution is
building a sandwich using an unexpected
bread choice. Consider specialty breads
such as flatbread, lavash, focaccia,
ciabatta or even Texas toast.
Pairing cheese with protein enhances an
ordinary grilled cheese by adding texture
and distinct flavor. But when pairing
meat and cheese, it’s important to pay
attention to both texture and flavor. If
the meat is powerful, use a mild cheese,
Smith appeals to adult palates with his
Wisconsin Edelweiss Emmentaler with
duck confit. He builds the sandwich with
fig jam, duck confit and either watercress
or arugula enveloped between slices of
hearth-baked whole-wheat bread. Pairing
fig jam and duck made sense to Smith, who
explains that the combination is common in
the Perigord region of France. “The fig jam