Great grilled cheese, like great salt, is a revelation, not so much because either is that much better than other edible marvels (though they are), but because we take both for granted. When you eat anything thoughtlessly, thinking about it automatically produces awe. Great grilled cheese requires only butter, and a molten mass of melted cheese bedded down between slices of beautifully browned and crisped bread studded with hulking, crunchy, tangy salt crystals. But why stop there? This sandwich may be shameless, but at least you won’t take it for granted.
Makes one sandwich
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 thick slices fluffy egg bread (such as challah or brioche loaf)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons gochujang
- 2 or 3 thin slices ripe tomato
- 1 small sour pickle, sliced lengthwise into 4 slices
- 1 1/2 ounces sliced white cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 ounces sliced yellow cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon Red Alder Smoked Salt
Generously butter one side of each slice of the bread. Mix the mayonnaise and gochujang in a small bowl. Spread on the unbuttered sides of each bread slice. Top one slice with tomato, the other with pickle slices. Cover the tomato slices with the white cheddar and the pickle slices with the yellow cheddar.
Set a large skillet over the lowest heat possible. Put the cheese-topped bread slices in the skillet, butter side down. Cover the skillet and cook until the cheese has melted, about 10 minutes. Do not rush. Check every now and then to make sure the bread is not burning. If it is and you are on the lowest heat you possible can get, you will have to stop and serve the sandwiches at their present state of melt.
Scatter the salt over the melted cheese of one of the slices and flip one half over the other so the salt is imbedded between the two cheese layers. Transfer to a plate, carefully cut in half, and tuck in.
Recipe adapted from Bitterman's Craft Salt Cooking
Photo by Clare Barboza