One of my favorite pleasures in life is a grilled cheese sandwich. Melty sharp cheddar cheese, the more aged the better, between two slices of tangy sourdough bread, seared in butter to a toasty perfection. I daresay I might have become a bit of a connoisseur. I've tried to keep my habit down to no more than one a week. Or two. Two a week. Maybe more. Yeah.
As I looked into my fridge this evening, I saw something that I am greatly ashamed of. A block of cheese, from the Beehive Cheese Co in Uintah, UT, called Promontory Cheddar. This block of cheddar was given to me by my dear friend Ruth, who is apparently neighbors with the guy that runs the joint. I have been waiting for the perfect time to taste it, and I'm sure that several of those moments have passed.
So, it's time to repent. I opened it up and gave it a taste. WOW! This stuff is amazing! No wonder it's all the buzz at the local farmers markets this year! I'm still kicking myself for not trying it earlier. But what to do with such a magnificent cheddar? As I surved my pre-shopping day ingredients, I found plenty of my beloved sourdough bread, and a package of prosciutto. I knew what I had to do.
I took out a slice of prosciutto and lightly pan-fried it in just a bit of butter. While that was going, I finely grated a bit of cheddar and piled it onto a slice of sourdough. I topped it with the prosciutto, closed it, and added a bit of butter to the pan and put in the sandwich. I like to add butter to the pan instead of buttering the bread. Aside from the fact that cold butter tends to tear bread, I just think it tastes better. I pulled the sandwich from the pan, added a little more butter, and put the sandwich back in on the other side. Now, I know that a lot of professional cooks will tell you that excessive flipping is evil. In the case of grilled cheese, it's essential. I find that it gives time to let the cheese melt, without letting the bread get hot enough from constant direct exposure to the pan to burn.
I don't normally put anything inside my grilled cheese sandwiches except for cheese. But I have heard that the original grilled cheese sandwich, supposedly in France, included ham. I'm sure it wasn't Italian ham, but I'll live. This sandwich was awesome. It had a slightly deeper flavor, both from a cheese whose flavor had advanced far beyond the wimpy supermarket varieties, and from the prosciutto, only lightly cooked, so as not to detract from its original cure and flavor. It was far too magnificent to have on a regular basis. But it may make it into my dietal rotation on a somewhat semi-regular basis.