NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

August 1, 2013

Grown-up grilled cheese

Gourmet takes on classic sandwich

When I was a child, I thought like a child, I ate like a child: PB&Js, BLTs and grilled cheese sandwiches made from slices of Velveeta melted to gooey perfection between two slices of skillet-toasted white bread.

But when I became an adult, I put away childish things. I grew out of Velveeta and Wonder bread. Grilled cheese sandwiches, however, are forever — assuming you know how to update them for a more grown-up palate.

Begin by using better bread. In place of the squishy white stuff, try something with more substance: a flavorful sourdough, sweet brioche or crunchy baguette, for example. Buy a loaf, and slice it yourself into slabs about a half-inch thick (or halve the baguette lengthwise). The slices should be substantial enough to hold everything together but not so bulky that they overwhelm the flavor of the sandwich.

Next, add some interesting texture or flavors to the filling. Thin slices of sweet apple and spicy jalapenos complement sourdough slices nicely. The brioche makes a delicious and filling breakfast or brunch when stuffed with sliced ham, sauteed mushrooms and a fried egg. A baguette yields a bruschetta-like grilled cheese sandwich when dressed with fresh basil leaves, pesto and tomato confit.

The star in this show, of course, is the cheese. You can use the fanciest, stinkiest, crumbliest cheese your heart desires if you borrow a trick from the food scientists at Kraft. Flip over a box of Velveeta, and you’ll find there, listed among the other ingredients, the reason that it slices so easily and melts so uniformly: sodium citrate. This white, crystalline ingredient looks like salt, and in fact, it is a salt — a salt of citric acid, which is a natural component of citrus fruits. You can buy sodium citrate at some brewer supply stores or order it readily online.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Special Features
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Special Features