Monday, August 16, 2010

Afterschool Special Recipe: Truffled Grilled Cheese with Crimini Mushrooms (aka: The Fungus Among Us)

I've been really into the idea of comfort food lately and decided to start posting recipes I'm going to call the Afterschool Specials, food for the sophisticated inner child. I'm going to take things we all grew up eating, like grilled cheese, pizza, sloppy joe's, fish sticks, and give them a mature modern twist.

First up: my favorite grilled cheese recipe!

Every April, in honor of Grilled Cheese Month, Los Angeles hosts the annual Grilled Cheese Invitational. Having never received an invite, my friends Amy Jo and Jason started hosting their own Grilled Cheese Social, a backyard throw down that requires multiple panini makers, numerous hot plates, a web of extension cords and pounds of butter. What starts out friendly eventually turns vicious as everyone battles for supremacy and by the end of the day you stumble home, high on congealed dairy, breathing like a fat man sprinting to the top of the Empire State Building. It’s totally awesome! Last year I was edged out of victory by one stankin’ vote, defeated by a sandwich that used a Krispy Kreme donut as its bread base. Cheap parlor tricks!

This is the sandwich that was robbed of glory, The Fungus Among Us, an offering that combines creamy cheese and woodsy depth on sweet, fluffy bread but, best of all, is topped with truffle oil, aka: liquid gold. You show me someone who doesn’t like truffle oil and I’ll show you someone who’s denying their taste buds one of life’s great pleasures.

Serves Four

2 cups Crimini mushrooms, roughly diced
3 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
8 slices Havarti cheese
8 slices buttery, soft, sweet white bread, such as Oroweat’s Country Potato Bread
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 scant teaspoon truffle oil
salt to taste

(Note: You should never heat truffle oil, it burns off the flavor. It’s best drizzled over a dish just before serving.)

Lightly coat a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat.

Add mushroom and sauté until tender and all liquid has evaporated, 7-8 minutes. Generously season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

In a small bowl, toss cooked mushrooms with Italian parsley and set aside.

Return cleaned skillet to stovetop and reduce heat to medium. You want the pan to be hot enough to melt your cheese, but not so hot that the bread scorches.

Generously butter one side of each piece of bread and lightly salt.

Place a piece of bread, buttered side down, in the skillet and top with cheese, a sprinkled layer of mushrooms, a second slice of cheese and another piece of butter bread, buttered side up.

Grill until bread is golden brown and bottom layer of cheese begins to melt, about 3 minutes.

Carefully flip sandwich over and continue cooking until the second side is golden brown and cheese is melted, 2-3 minutes.

Remove sandwich from heat and place on a cutting board while you repeat process with the remaining ingredients.

Just before serving, drizzle with truffle oil and a final light sprinkling of salt.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

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