The Most Expensive Grilled Cheese Sandwich!By
When we spoke to our friend Average Betty this week, she mentioned that she is reporting for the Grilled Cheese Invitational event in downtown Los Angeles this weekend, a culinary competition in search of the perfect grilled cheese! Ever since, we’ve had visions of grilled cheese sandwiches dancing in our heads.
Memories of grilled cheese sandwiches go way back into our school years, tomato soup, white bread, and Kraft cheese, served by Mom with a touch of love. Perfect comfort food. We started to think about chefs, do any of our favorites make a special version of the childhood classic? We set off on a mission to find out!
We found an amazing version of the classic sandwich, courtesy of Chef Christopher Lee from the Gilt restaurant in the NYC Palace Hotel. The Price= $50 on the menu. Featured on Gossip Girl, this is perhaps the most expensive grilled cheese sandwich ever. Not that we watch Gossip Girl, we just heard about this episode! And we have no idea who Chuck Bass is, and have never had a crush on him, really!
We know, times are tough, and most of us are carefully watching our food spending. Fear not, we can show you how to make our version for much less. First, watch the video, and then we will disclose our cost cutting suggestion for the sandwich recipe.
Read on for the recipes!
Here is the original recipe courtesy of Chef Chris Lee and MSNBC:
For the Grilled Cheese Sandwich:
• 8 slices of fresh baked white bread; look for a local bakery
• 16 slices of fontina cheese
• 2 tablespoons sweet butter
• 2 oz. fresh shaved black winter truffles
• Salt and pepper
Layer 2 slices of fontina cheese between 2 slices of white bread and shave a couple of slices of truffles in the middle of each sandwich; do the same for all four sandwiches. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter melts, add the sandwiches and cook until the bread is nice and toasted. Remove and slice sandwiches in half and place onto four plates.
***First of all you can make this exactly as written for much less than $50. You can purchase black or white truffles at any gourmet market while in season, or order them online. Or, to make this even more affordable, simply make sandwich without the truffles, adding black or white truffle oil instead, which is almost just as decadent. Be sure to avoid truffle oils with synthetic components, and stick to a natural, certified organic brand such as Da Rosario. The truffle oil may last 2-4 months if kept in the refrigerator, bring it back to room temperature before using. It is amazing on everything from omelets to asparagus and more. ***
For the Salad:
Place arugula in a small bowl with the vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, sliced shallots, and season with salt and pepper. Toss the salad well and garnish the plates with it.
For the Smoked Tomato Soup
• 4 ripe large tomatoes
• 2 small shallots, peeled and sliced thin
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
• 3 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1 bunch basil
• 1 bunch chives, sliced thin
Spicy crème fraiche
• 1/2 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
• 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• Salt and pepper
• Outdoor grill
• 1 cup hickory wood chips
• Aluminum foil
Smoking the tomatoes
Core and cut the tomatoes in half. Make a little tray out of the aluminum foil and place the wood chips in the tray. Place the tray in the middle of the grill on the briquettes or coals. Light the chips and let them burn for about 2 minutes; then blow them out. A good amount of smoke should start to form; if not, burn again for another 2 minutes. Place tomatoes over the smoke on the grill flesh side down and then cover the grill. Tomatoes should smoke for about 8 to 10 minutes. Once tomatoes are smoked, remove from the grill and peel.
Making the soup
Start to sweat the shallots and garlic in a medium-size pot over medium heat until translucent. Then add the tomatoes, stock and heavy cream to the pot and simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, blend the soup until smooth. Add the soup back to a clean pot; add the bunch of basil, lemon juice and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Allow the basil to steep for 1 hour, then remove the basil and cool until serving.
Spicy crème fraiche
Add the crème fraiche and cayenne to a bowl and mix well. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
Plating the soup
Heat the soup in a medium pot. Portion the soup into 4 bowls and garnish with the spicy crème fraiche and sliced chives.
For more truffle goodness, check out this video featuring celebrity chef Benjamin Christie on a truffle hunt!