Recently, I had taken a break from grilled cheese sandwiches as culinary classes were winding down for the semester and I wanted to focus on my studies. I had a final practicum consisting of knife skills and recipe, as well as a country presentation. Oh and the final. Thankfully, I can say I have completed everything with mostly flying colors. My knife cuts turned out well and my Grilled Chicken with Roasted Winter Vegetables was most definitely edible. My food/country report on Greece earned me a 40/40, with my professor only returning my cover sheet. I can only believe that he kept my paper for future reference. Then, the final. I was dreading this test as I knew it would be very comprehensive and very intense. Thankfully, the final turned out to be take home, allowing me to worry a lot less. The final class simply involved cleaning and that is something I can most definitely do. This past semester, I learned as much about myself as I did about cooking. I love cooking at home but know for sure that I am destined to remain in the front of the house, with the customers and the excitement.
When I decided that I wanted to cook a sandwich this week, I had no idea what I was going to cook. When I was deciding on a cheese for my Fried Matzoh w/Horseradish Mayo Grilled Cheese, I saw that Whole Foods had Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound Cheddar on sale…for $19.99/lb. I was going to use it on my Matzoh sandwich but decided that I would save such an awesomely expensive cheese for a better bread. The cheese was still on sale, so that is what I chose. From there, I put my mind together with the sous chef’s and we created an awesome sandwich…
- Balsamic Glazed Baby Portobello Mushrooms
- Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
- Organic Sourdough
the cheese: jasper hill cabot clothbound cheddar
Now, after eating and thoroughly enjoying this cheese, there is no doubt in my mind that cheddar is most definitely my favorite cheese. Sure, there are many fancy cheeses that I have really enjoyed and many more I have yet to taste. However, every time I take one bite of cheddar, any type of [sharp] cheddar, I am transported to cheese heaven. As far as I am concerned, it will be a long time before I find a cheese that I love as much as cheddar.
Cabot Clothbound is a handsome natural-rinded traditional cheddar. Bandaged with muslin and skillfully aged a minimum of 10 months at the Cellars at Jasper Hill. Cabot Clothbound has all the characteristic texture of an English-style cheddar with the sweet caramel and milky flavors that sets it apart from other bandaged cheddars. The flavor profile is at once sweet, savory, nutty, and tangy. (Cellars at Jasper Hill)
FYI: I just read the following, learning that this cheese, that I love so much, is most definitely not kosher:
Once unmolded from their shaping hoops, the infant wheels are individually wrapped with muslin and brushed with lard before they undergo a ten to fourteen month maturation period. (Cellars at Jasper Hill)
Unfortunately, I will never be able to eat this cheese, now that I know it has been brushed with lard, a huge no-no in the land of Kosher.
After deciding on the cheese, it was time to choose the accompanying ingredients. While walking through Whole Foods, I realized that it had been awhile since I had used mushrooms. It was time. However, which mushrooms and how would I season/flavor them? I went with baby portobello mushrooms and thought balsamic vinegar. I called the sous chef, asked her opinion and crazy enough, without any prompting, the sous chef also mentioned balsamic vinegar.
With that, I was making balsamic glazed portobello mushrooms.
I sauteed the mushrooms in just a bit of balsamic vinegar until they were covered and soft.
I felt that something was missing, by just using the balsamic, so I also included some dried thyme. I had wanted to add more balsamic, but my original amount turned out to be plenty. Keep in mind, balsamic vinegar is strong and can be overpowering if too much is used.
Between the sous chef and I, there was a debate over which bread to choose: Sourdough or Italian? I really like Whole Foods’s Italian bread, but an Organic Sourdough Boule was just sitting there. I felt like it was calling my name, so I chose the Sourdough. Not only did I enjoy the bread with the sandwich, I enjoyed it by itself with just some butter. Fantastic bread.
After glazing my mushrooms, I made sure not to clean the pan as I wanted to keep all of the leftover balsamic/thyme mixture. Instead, I melted some butter and tried to scrape up all the goodness off of the pan. I then placed the bread right on the pan. I believe this practice added some great flavor.
Let me first say, this sandwich has bold flavors: aged cheddar and balsamic glazed portobello mushrooms. If you like more mild, simple flavors, this grilled cheese is definitely not for you. However, if you like big, pronounced flavors, this grilled cheese is definitely for you. In my opinion, this sandwich is a real winner. It had so much going on but all the pieces worked together to create one great whole, awesome, grilled cheese sandwich. The recipe is very accessible to all, allowing you to make it with minor issues. I would recommend trying it yourself in the very near future. Even if the cheese is not Kosher.