We couldn’t agree more with the opening sentence for this recipe out of the Simply French cookbook by Patricia Wells. We’ve eaten an entire day’s meals this way. What is Croque Monsieur for breakfast but a grilled cheese sandwich wrapped up in egg? A grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup for lunch couldn’t be more all-American. And for dinner?
Just the other night, we were introduced to Fredy Girardet‘s Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.
At the most basic, it is of course, just toasted bread with melted cheese on top. However, a decadent spread of butter, a rubdown with garlic, and the part that we had never experienced before, a gentle drizzle of whatever white wine we’re going to be drinking with it, made this “a sandwich that’s refined and elegant.” In fact, we didn’t see it as a sandwich at all, but a sophisticated, mobile version of fondue.
The recipe recommends Swiss cheese, e.g. Fribourg, and wine, preferably Swiss Fendant (even more reason why it ate like a fondue to us), but we landed on the French side with Comté cheese, a gruyere cheese from Franche-Comté in France and Michel Gahier Chardonnay “Fauquette” Arbois, a slightly oxidative (read: “deliciously funky enough to make you notice”) white wine from the same area.
Varying the recipe to scandalously thin slices of baguette makes it a perfect party food, which we’ll be making many times over in the next few Holiday weeks.
Fredy Girardet’s Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
from Simply French by Patricia Wells
8 ounces best quality imported Swiss cheese, preferably Fribourg
8 thick slices country bread
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 plump fresh garlic clove, halved (optional)
2 teaspoons dry white wine, preferable Swiss Fendant
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 pound small potatoes cooked in their skins
Imported Dijon mustard
Cornichons or other small pickles
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
With a sharp knife, cut the cheese into very thin slices. Set aside.
Lightly brush both sides of the bread with softened butter. Arrange the slices side by side on a baking sheet, place in the center of the oven, and bake until browned but still soft in the center, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and scrub each piece of bread with garlic if desired. Very lightly sprinkle each piece of bread with a few drops of wine.
(** TasteSpotting Kitchen note ** we used significantly more wine than “a few drops,” but that’s all up to you)
Overlap the cheese slices — about 1 ounce of cheese per slice of bread— on top of the bread. Return the baking sheet to the oven and cook until the cheese is bubbly and melted, about 5 minutes.Remove from the oven and season generously with pepper. Serve immediately — and pass boiled potatoes, cornichons and mustard if desired.
Variations, as pulled from text
- “layer it with finely chopped onions”
- “sprinkle it at the end with a touch of paprika”
- “layer the bread first with paper-thin slices of country ham or with viande des grisons”
- “top this off with an egg, fried separately in a skillet”