I’d never turn down a grilled cheese sandwich for lack of innovation. In its most fulfilling, basic, loving incarnation, bells and whistles would just get in the way. Sometimes all you want is a heck of a lot of melted cheese between two incredibly buttery pieces of toasted bread.
Other times, you want a little extra oomph with your cheese. When I want to move beyond my childhood favorite’s most basic delicious form, I involve ham, Dijon mustard and herb butter.
Pick a good ham- maybe applewood smoked, maybe just a basic cure, but choose one with few preservatives. The Dijon can be whole-grain or smooth, whatever your tastes dictates, and the herbs should always be fresh. If you can’t find tarragon, substitute chervil or sage. Keep any leftover compound butter for future cooking- adding a dab of it to finished sauces or pastas is a simple way to enhance a dish.
Grilled Cheese with Herbed Butter, Dijon and Ham
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
½ teaspoon ground pepper
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
8 pieces Italian or French batard bread, sliced ½ inch thick
8 ounces grated Gruyere-style cheese
8 ounces thinly sliced ham
2 teaspoons room temperature butter
salt to taste
Mix the butter, herbs and pepper together in a small bowl until blended well. Set aside.
Butter one side of four pieces of bread lightly with the herb butter. Spread a teaspoon of Dijon over one side of the remaining slices of unbuttered bread. Each sandwich will get one buttered slice and one Dijon slice. Portion out the cheese, 2 ounces per sandwich. Put 1 ounce of grated cheese over each sandwich’s buttered slice and 1 ounce over the Dijon slice. Then, put two ounces of ham over whichever slice you’d like, then close the sandwich so the ham is in the middle.
Lightly butter the outside of the sandwich slices with the herb butter, being sure to cover all the way to the crusty edges of the bread.
Melt 1 teaspoon butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Place the sandwiches in the pan and press down firmly with a spatula. Reduce heat to low and sprinkle the sandwiches lightly with salt. Flip when the first side is golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add another teaspoon of butter to the pan, and repeat with the second side. The sandwich is ready when both pieces of bread are golden brown and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
grilled cheese, Gruyere, herb butter
Print This Post
You might also like