As some of you may know, our very own gansie has been on a mission to find the best grilled cheese in DC. One place she hasn’t yet ventured is my kitchen. What you see above is a mac ‘n’ cheese grilled cheese. Only you ESers would appreciate something as beautiful as this and wouldn’t mind that it means you have to hit the gym or an extra hour or two (or in my case actually going for once).
For those of you who remember Grilled Cheese Truck’s entry in America’s top 10 new sandwiches, this is like that one, only fancied up. I’m sure any old mac ‘n’ cheese recipe would work well, even, dare I say it — Kraft — but I went with a truffle mac ‘n’ cheese that I adapted from this recipe.
16oz pasta (your choice of shape)
8oz grated fontina
8oz grated parmesan
1 T fresh black truffle shavings (if available)
2 T fresh thyme, chopped
1 whole head of garlic, roasted.
1 cup of cream
1/2 cup brandy
Heat the oven to 350 degrees, roast the garlic in foil for about 30-45 minutes.
Boil water for pasta and cook until al dente.
Heat a a little of the olive oil in a pan, toss in the garlic and half of the truffle shavings (if you don’t have fresh truffle you can always substitute half of the EVOO with truffle oil), thyme and a pinch of s&p. Heat for 5 minutes. Add in the brandy and reduce to about half. Pour in the cream and simmer. Stir in the grated fontina until melted.
Stir in the cooked pasta until all the pasta is covered in the cheese mixture, pour in the grated parmesan and stir until fully mixed. Pour into oven proof dish or cast iron pan (I used my Le Creuset), sprinkle over the remaining shaved truffle and enough bread crumbs to coat.
Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
For the actual grilled sandwich part I used a fresh wheat grain bread (I went the healthier route), thickly sliced. Melt a little butter in the microwave and brush one side of each slice. Heat a grill pan to medium-high and place a slice of bread butter side down, “spread” over a layer of the mac n cheese and place the other slice of bread butter side up. Cover with the panini press and grill for two minutes, turn over and grill for another two minutes or until each side is charred.
A couple of tips: I always heat the panini press by leaving it on the grill pan for a few minutes. Also, if you don’t have a panini press you can always use the bottom of a heavy pot to press the sandwich or if you have a George Forman, then even better.
Serve with a glass of fat-free milk.