There are "grilled cheese people" and then there are people who could honestly take it or leave it. It's not that I don't have some serious nostalgia tied to the sandwich. Shoot, I might even crave it when I'm sick. But I usually find them boring, heavy, and one-dimensional.
I'd probably have one every decade if my wife wasn't in the pro-melted cheese camp. As a dutiful and honorable husband, I have to give in occasionally.
So I was immediately attracted to this Gourmet recipe that spruced everything up with curry mayonnaise and thinly sliced fennel. It's still indulgent, but the curry powder helps enliven each bite, and the fennel adds some crunch.
As befits a timid grilled cheese eater, I thought there was simply too much cheddar—I'd cut the amount in half next time. But my wife loved it, and she's probably a better gauge of these things than me.
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot (about 1 large)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 baguette
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 pound sharp Cheddar, grated
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch stainless steel skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add curry powder and shallot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot is soft and curry powder is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl along with mayonnaise and lemon juice. Stir well until mixed. Wipe out skillet.
Cut baguette diagonally into eight slices about six inches long and 1/4 inch wide. Brush one side of each with softened butter, and other with curry mayonnaise. Set four slices of bread, buttered-side down, on a cutting board. Divide the cheese amongst each, and top with sliced fennel. Cap each with remaining slices of bread, buttered-side up.
Set cleaned skillet over medium heat. When hot, add two sandwiches. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side until bread is golden brown and cheese melts. Repeat with remaining two sandwiches.