It can be as uncomplicated as a slice of cheese melted between two pieces of bread. But for lovers of grilled cheese, the basic recipe holds endless flavor possibilities and combinations.
In celebration of National Grilled Cheese Month — a recipe almost impossible to mess up — we asked area restaurants that are known to flip the traditional grilled sandwich upside down, to help us bring a bit of variety to an old classic.
"We like to sauté ours and sometimes we grill it with a mango chutney sauce, or with some bacon that we grill up and then put inside the grilled cheese with cheese on both sides, and then sometimes we throw a little tomato in there, too," said Gretchen Deane, co-manager of Top of the Hill Grill in Brattleboro, Vt.
Deane offers the following step-by-step process for the perfect grilled cheese: First, butter one side of both pieces of bread (Top of the Hill Grill uses a white bread from the Vermont Country Deli). Place your choice of cheese — for a fresh Vermont taste, Top of the Hill Grill uses Cabot Cheddar Cheese — on the inside of each piece of bread on the non-buttered side and grill open face, butter side down. Then place the "toppings" and dressings on the inside on top of the cheese. Bring both pieces of the sandwich together and finish grilling.
"Grilled cheese is a comfort food for a lot of people," Deane said.
Laura Sage, owner of Delightfully Delicious Cafe Bakery in Brattleboro, suggests adding hot sauce, pesto or hummus for a different flavor for those who want to "spice-up" the old favorite.
Sage is so fond of the sandwich, she said, she has printed about 50 different grilled cheese sandwich recipes.
For Michael Roller, chef and owner of Samel's Deli in Pittsfield, Mass., the bread can make all the difference when it comes to grilled cheese perfection.
"I think often bread can be overlooked in a grilled cheese sandwich, I don't eat it if it's on a plain white bread," said Roller.
At Samel's Deli, Roller uses sour dough from Berkshire Mountain Bakery.
"On the [Berkshire Mountain Bakery] sour dough bread, it's a whole different experience because it's flavorful and intense," Roller said. "That bread elevates grilled cheese to a whole other level. It holds up firm and is tender inside. It's really great bread for grilled cheese."
In addition to bread, Roller notes the need for quality cheese. They serve fontina cheese, which Roller said is flavorful, rich and cross between a taste of provolone and gouda.
Another favorite take on grilled cheese at the deli is one that uses goat cheese from Rawson Brook Farm in Monterey, Mass.
"I like it — it's creamy and flavorful, with a hint of goat cheese but not overpowering, it's tart," Roller said.
Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275