The grilled cheese conundrum: Young cheeses have no taste but melt perfectly, while aged cheeses have sophisticated flavor but turn grainy. We wanted the best of both worlds, which we achieved by starting with flavorful aged cheddar to which we add a small amount of wine and Brie (these two ingredients help the aged cheddar melt evenly without becoming greasy). A little bit of shallot increases the sandwiches’ complexity without detracting from the cheese, and a smear of mustard butter livens up the bread.
Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches With Cheddar And Shallots
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Look for a cheddar aged for about one year (avoid cheddar aged for longer; it won’t melt well). To quickly bring the cheddar to room temperature, microwave the pieces until warm, about 30 seconds. The first two sandwiches can be held in a 200-degree oven on a wire rack set in a baking sheet.
7 ounces aged cheddar cheese, cut into 24 equal pieces, room temperature
2 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed
2 tablespoons dry white wine or vermouth
4 teaspoons minced shallot
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
8 slices hearty white sandwich bread
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Process cheddar, Brie, and wine in food processor until smooth paste is formed, 20 to 30 seconds. Add shallot and pulse to combine, three to five pulses. Combine butter and mustard in small bowl.
Working on parchment paper–lined counter, spread mustard butter evenly over one side of slices of bread. Flip 4 slices of bread over and spread cheese mixture evenly over slices. Top with remaining 4 slices of bread, buttered sides up.
Preheat 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. (Droplets of water should just sizzle when flicked onto pan.) Place 2 sandwiches in skillet; reduce heat to medium-low; and cook until both sides are crispy and golden brown, 6 to 9 minutes per side, moving sandwiches to ensure even browning. Remove sandwiches from skillet and let stand for 2 minutes before serving. Repeat with remaining 2 sandwiches.
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