Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Grilled Cheese & Pickles

I'm sure many of you like kicking back with a beer, some chips, and primetime television after a long day at work.  I certainly enjoy that luxury, but subtract the chips and add a jar of dill pickles with a fork.  No joke -- I can sit down and watch reruns of Friends and simultaneously devour an entire jar of pickles.  I love pickles, and I love discovering ways to add pickles into my cooking.  While shopping at Trader Joe's the other day, I noticed some samples of a sandwich being served near the back of the store.  Upon closer inspection, I realized that what they had termed "The Dubliner" was actually heaven in a sandwich.  Sharp, melty cheese and crisp dill pickles sandwiched between toasted bread thick with Irish butter.  Are you dying yet?  The people around me seemed a little suspicious of this pickle sandwich, but I audibly exclaimed, "OH MY GOD" as I walked toward the frozen foods, munching on my sample.  The next day, I set out to recreate this sandwich of my dreams.

Of course, I had no information about the ingredients used in the sample sandwich, except generic ideas of bread, cheese, and pickles.  I actually baked two loaves of rustic, hearty bread that afternoon, so I went with that.  But any sturdy sandwich bread, or even 1/2-inch slices of a good Italian loaf would be stellar.  I decided to stick with a nice, sharp cheddar to pair with the crunchy dill pickles.  Both have strong flavors of their own, but the cheese and the pickles worked very well together.  Such an easy idea...I can't believe I had never thought of it before.  And now I've had a grilled cheese with pickles twice in two days.  Plus pickles for snacking while cooking.  Of course.

Grilled Cheese with Pickles
inspired by a sample at Trader Joe's
serves 2

4 slices of hearty bread (about 1/2-inch slice)
~ 1-2 tablespoons softened butter
4 slices of sharp cheddar cheese
4 medium-sized dill pickles (I used the full-sized pickles, but you could just as easily use the pickle chips)

Spread the butter thickly on one side of each slice of bread.  If you are using full-sized pickles, slice them lengthwise into thirds, not into rounds.  I found the rounds to be a little more unwieldy.  Assemble your sandwiches -- bread, layer of cheese, pickles, another layer of cheese, bread.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Place the sandwich(s) into the skillet and cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until the bread is a golden brown.  Flip carefully, and cook the other side until it's golden brown.  If the cheese isn't melting, place a tent of tinfoil over the pan to trap in the heat and melt the cheese.  Once the bread has toasted and the cheese has melted, remove the sandwich(s).  Slice in half, and serve hot.  Be amazed at your grilled cheese with pickles. 

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