Grilled cheese is an American classic, but the same old squares of yellow cheese on white bread can get very boring very quickly. Terrance Brennan, chef and owner of Picholine and Artisanal restaurants in New York and Washington state, is one of the country's foremost cheese connoisseurs. He shared some of his new recipes on "The Early Show" that will give you some interesting new grilled cheese choices.
Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Grilled Cheese with Aioli
For the Grilled Cheese:
4 slices black olive loaf, 1/4" thick (from a medium /large loaf)
5 ounces fresh, grated mozzarella, room temperature
1 large, ripe beefsteak tomato sliced in to 1/2" rings (approximately 2 ounces per piece, 2 pieces per sandwich)
6 large, fresh basil leaves washed and dried
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided in half
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Aioli:
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, room temperature
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil
Put the yolks, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, and salt in the bowl of a small food processor fitted with the steel blade. With the motor running, slowly add the oil in a thin stream to form a thick emulsion. Transfer to a container.
Cover and refrigerate.
Lay out the slices of bread on a cutting board. Arrange half of the cheese neatly and evenly on two slices of the bread. Add the tomatoes and season them evenly with the salt and pepper. Distribute a tablespoon of olive oil evenly over each layer of the tomatoes. Layer on top with three basil leaves on each. Finish by covering with the remaining half of the cheese, and sealing the sandwiches with the other slices of bread.
Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 10-inch, non stick sauté pan over medium heat. Put the sandwiches in the pan, put 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the other side and cook them until golden brown for 2-3 minutes then flip over and repeat. Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board, cut in half and serve warm with a side of the aioli for dipping.
Cheddar, Apple and Bacon Grilled Cheese
4 slices country bread, 1/4 inch thick (from a medium/large loaf)
6 ounces (approximately 1 cup grated) farmstead cheddar, such as Grafton Village at room temperature
6 slices apple wood- smoked bacon (about 4 ounces total weight)
One half granny smith apple, peeled, seeded and sliced 1/16" thick, ideally on a mandolin
4 teaspoons room temperature butter
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Arrange the bacon in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in the oven, turning once after ten minutes. Continue cooking for an additional ten minutes or until the bacon is crispy. Remove from the oven and transfer the bacon to a plate with paper towels to drain any excess fat.
Lay out two slices of the bread and divide half the cheese and all of the apples evenly between them. Put three slices of the bacon on each sandwich, cover with the remaining cheese and seal with the remaining two slices of bread.
Heat a 10-inch, non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Apply the room temperature butter to both sides of each sandwich and place them into the pan. Cook each side until golden brown and the cheese has melted, approximately 3-4 minutes per side, pressing with a spatula to flatten the sandwiches and integrate the ingredients.
Note: If the sandwiches are golden brown and the cheese is not completely melted, put the pan in the pre-heated oven for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board, cut in half and serve neatly arranged on a serving platter.
Comte Grilled Cheese with Organic Truffle Honey
4 slices sourdough bread, sliced 1/4 inch thick (from a medium/large loaf)
5 ounces Comte, room temperature and grated (Gruyere is a viable substitute if necessary)
1/2 teaspoon organic truffle honey (optional)
4 teaspoons butter (room temperature)
Lay out 2 slices of the bread and evenly divide the Comte cheese on top. Distribute the honey evenly over the sandwiches with a small spoon and seal them with the remaining slices of bread.
Heat a 10-inch, non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Apply the room temperature butter to both sides of each sandwich and place them into the pan. Cook each side until golden brown and the cheese has melted, approximately 3-4 minutes per side. During the cooking process, use a spatula to flatten the sandwiches. Transfer to a cutting board, cut in half and serve.