Monday, June 13, 2011

Grilled Swiss with Tomato on White Bread

Grilled cheese - swiss, grilled tomato with herbs, white bread.
In my previous discussions about grilled cheese, I try to point out how easy it is to forget the importance of the quality of the bread. Here, I throw that idea out the window, and make the cheapest, most basic, store bought sliced bread into something special...
I'm talking about generic, store bought white bread. No, not even that popular brand we all ate when I was a kid, I'm going with the really cheap store brand here. When you grill this kind of white bread, most of it's structure just collapses in on itself, and you're left with the crust you've formed on the outside from the heat of the grill, ans a thin layer of damp mush between the crunchy surface and whatever molten cheese concoction is inside.

For this sandwich, despite the fact that I love a quality bread that develops more crunch, and keeps it's body, the collapsing properties of cheap white bread worked to my advantage. I was stuffing quite a bit of molten cheese and thick tomato slices- so the bread forms almost a shell that can contain the hot slush of cheese and tomato within.

I started this sandwich with two large, thick slices of tomato. I like to grill my tomato so it develops a little brown char, boils off some of it's excess moisture, and begins to break down into almost a tomato paste. Just for kicks, as I do this, I'll also coat the tomato slices with a little mix of italian herbs- basil, oregano, thyme, etc...

Meanwhile, I'll start grilling two slices of the fore-mentioned cheap white bread slathered in butter. As the slices grill, I'll layer on about two slices of swiss cheese on each side. Once the tomatoes are ready, I'll drop one slice on each side, and wait for the bread to finish developing it's crust. When you assemble the sandwich, and cut into it, the tomato should almost lose it's structure, and almost combine with the melted cheese.

From a flavor perspective, the sweet/acid from the tomato acts as a great counterpoint to the sharpness of the swiss cheese, and the perfume of the herbs will hit your nose as you sink your teeth in (and try to avoid nasty cheese burns!). Swiss cheese is more viscous and clingy when melted than the typical american cheese, so it ends up forming some of the structure to hold together the "mushier" grilled tomato, and insulates the bread from the liquids in the tomato. The bread forms a thin crunchy shell barely containing the molten mass within- a bite through means a minor explosion of gooey cheese and tomato every time.