Nothing takes me back more to my childhood than biting into a sandwich with a warm, gooey cheese center between crunchy slices of buttered toast. As a young adult, in my first apartment, one of my favorite meals was a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of scotch broth. Grilled cheese sandwiches these days are looking all grown up and designer-like. I’ve seen them dressed up with prosciutto, tomato marmalade and cheese curds; artisanal sourdough with aged cheddar, Gruyère and roasted tomatoes; four cheeses with mushrooms and truffles; brie and fig jam and the ingredient list goes on. A far cry from the quintessential American grilled cheese sandwich – white bread with processed cheese. Americans consume more than two billion grilled cheese sandwiches a year.
My new spin on an all-time favorite doesn’t over complicate the basics of a grilled cheese sandwich and I have Off Beet Farm to thank. Jamie and Sarah, the dynamic duo behind the farm, began selling their version of sauerkraut. The first batch we bought from them was their Sour Beast wildly fermented mixed vegetable. After a taste test we were hooked! I asked Jamie how the name of Sour Beast came to light. He said it was the first batch he made and it seemed as though the cabbage was giving him some grief and he felt a bit grumpy (his words). As a kid I was never too enthused with sauerkraut…that was a thing my parents ate but thankfully my palate has changed. Fermented sauerkraut contains a lot of the same healthy probiotics as a bowl of yogurt.
Makes 1 sandwich
2 slices of bread
melting cheeses such as cheddar, swiss, brie, Gruyère (sliced or grated)
couple tablespoons of sauerkraut
frying pan, large enough to fit your sandwich (non-stick, stainless steel, or cast iron)
Heat frying pan over medium heat. Place cheese (pile it on if you like it ooey-gooey) on one slice of bread, followed by heaping tablespoon(s) of sauerkraut and then cover with other slice. Butter the top slice of bread and place this face down on the hot frying pan. While this is cooking, butter the top. Cooking times will vary depending on how thick you sliced the cheese and how thick the bread slices are but usually 2 minutes before you start to notice the cheese melting. Do a test by lifting one edge with a spatula. The bottom of the sandwich should look golden brown. If it is, flip over with a spatula and cook a further 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate, cut in half and eat immediately. Serve alone, with a dill pickle or a bowl of your favorite soup.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: If you like, cover with a lid to help melt the cheese Enjoy!