What is it about melted cheese? Just about anything oozing with melted cheese tastes delicious – like melted mozzarella on a pizza; sweet, nutty asiago in a luscious mac & cheese; or earthy fontina in an unbearably sinful fondue with chipotle and tequila.
But perhaps the simplest recipe – the most adored of all – is the grilled cheese sandwich. When prepared with a crusty bread and stuffed with a cheese that melts to perfection, it is essentially irresistible.
Here, this beloved sandwich takes on a gourmet twist. The secret ingredient: garlic confit!
When garlic is gently poached in olive oil, it becomes sweet, with a subtle flavor. The cloves become so soft that you can spread them on your toast – or in this case, in your grilled cheese sandwich. Pair the mellow garlic confit with zingy baby arugula and a nutty, pungent aged cheddar, gruyère or fontina, and every luscious bite is mouthwatering.
For lunch, serve this grilled cheese with a simple leafy green salad. For a casual dinner, dress it up with a side vegetable like these hand-cut sweet potato fries or these grilled potatoes with rosemary, garlic and coarse sea salt – a meal that every cheese lover will want to devour.
Food & wine pairing: Long Island, Cabernet Franc with garlic confit grilled cheese
A Cabernet Franc from Long Island, New York (like this one from Paumanok Vineyards), or from Chinon or Bourgueil in the Loire Valley, is delicious with these tasty grilled cheeses.
Grilled cheese sandwich with garlic confit and baby arugula
active time: 30 min
- Step 1: Place 4 slices of bread on a cutting board and brush with the olive oil reserved from the garlic confit. Turn slices around and spread the grated cheese on the non-oiled side. Top each slice with a heap of the baby arugula. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the garlic confit on the other 4 slices of bread. Place the garlic confit slices on top of the slices with the arugula and press firmly to seal the sandwiches. Brush the top of the sandwiches with the balance of the oil.
- Step 2: Heat a large heavy-bottomed frying pan to medium-high heat. Add the sandwiches, reduce heat to medium/medium-high, and sauté 4 to 5 minutes until golden-brown. Flip the sandwiches and continue to sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until golden-brown and the cheese has melted completely. Serve piping hot.