Grilled cheese has the versatility to be everything from simple to gourmet. Those who grew up in the United States likely know and love the standard fare of white bread and American cheese. But if your adult palate prefers something more sophisticated, try one of these recipes, courtesy of Laura Werlin, cheese expert and grilled cheese cookbook author. Her latest is "Grilled Cheese, Please!"
Mozzarella with Crispy Prosciutto and Broccoli Rabe
"Grilled Cheese, Please!" by Laura Werlin
8 thin slices prosciutto (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bunch (12 ounces) broccoli rabe, tough stems removed and coarsely chopped (or use Swiss chard or Tuscan kale)
1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 sandwich-size slices Italian bread (or use pain au levain or sourdough)
8 ounces mozzarella, drained and sliced if water-packed; otherwise coarsely grated
Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat and line a plate with paper towels. Add prosciutto slices (do in batches if necessary) and cook until browned and crisp, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Slices will further crisp as they cool.
Add enough oil to make 2 tablespoons fat in the pan over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add broccoli rabe. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, tender and bright green yet caramelized around a few of the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. (Add water to pan if it seems dry).
Add lemon juice, pepper flakes and salt and toss to coat. Transfer broccoli rabe to plate. Wipe out skillet but don’t wash.
Brush remaining oil on one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices of bread, oil side down, on work surface. Distribute broccoli rabe and follow with the prosciutto. Pile cheese on top, compressing with your hand if necessary, and top with remaining bread slices, oil side up.
Reheat skillet over medium for 2 minutes. Put sandwiches into pan, cover and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until the undersides are golden brown.
Turn sandwiches, pressing each one firmly with spatula to flatten slightly. Cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until undersides are well browned.
Remove cover, turn sandwiches once more and press firmly with spatula again. Cook 1 minute or until cheese has melted completely. Remove from pan and let cool 2 to 3 minutes. Cut in half and serve. Makes 4 sandwiches.
Approximate nutritional information, per sandwich: 500 calories, 28 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 1300 mg sodium, 33 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 29 g protein
Chips and Guacamole Grilled Cheese
"Grilled Cheese, Please!"
8 slices bacon
8 large tortilla chips
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
8 slices sourdough bread
1/2 cup guacamole
2 tablespoons peeled, seeded, diced Roma tomato
4 ounces Colby cheese, coarsely grated
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated
4 ounces goat cheese
Line plate with paper towel. In large nonstick skillet, cook bacon over medium until very crisp. Drain bacon on paper towel. Remove bacon fat from pan and wipe pan clean with paper towel, but do not wash. Set aside.
Make a tortilla-chip butter: Place chips in bowl of food processor and process until textured like sand. Or place chips in sturdy plastic bag. Use meat mallet or other heavy object and pound chips. Put butter in medium bowl and add ground chips. Using fork, work together until well mixed. Mixture should be somewhat stiff.
Spread the butter mixture on one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices, butter-chip mixture down, on your work surface. Spread 2 tablespoons guacamole on each slice of bread.
On one slice, sprinkle tomato on guacamole, followed by Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses. Dot with small pieces goat cheese. Finish by placing 2 slices bacon on top, then cover with other piece of bread, buttered side up.
Repeat with other 4 slices.
Reheat skillet over medium for 2 minutes. Put sandwiches in pan, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until undersides are golden brown. Watch carefully because the chips in the butter can burn easily.
Turn sandwiches, pressing firmly with spatula to compress filling slightly. Cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until well browned.
Turn sandwiches once more, press firmly with spatula once again, cook another minute and remove from pan.
Cool 5 minutes. Cut in half and serve. Makes 4 sandwiches.
Approximate nutritional information, per sandwich: 1050 calories, 52 g fat, 28 g saturated fat, 120 mg cholesterol, greater than 2000 mg sodium, 103 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 42 g protein