Makes 4 servings
These aren't your ordinary grilled cheese sandwiches! Stuffed with aged Cheddar (I use 5-year-old white Cheddar) and Gruyère cheese along with fresh basil leaves, toasted in a panini grill, and served with a sweet-tart balsamic vinegar dip, these are gourmet version of the classic designed for adults.
If you'd like, prepare the Balsamic Dip in advance. Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
For the dip
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the sandwiches
1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely shredded aged white Cheddar cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely shredded Gruyere cheese
8 (½-inch-thick) slices artisan bread, such as Italian or sourdough
16 fresh basil leaves
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
Bring the vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Boil, uncovered, for 4 minutes or until reduced to ½ cup. Remove from the heat, add the brown sugar, and stir until dissolved. Add the butter and stir until melted.
Combine the Cheddar and Gruyère cheeses in a medium bowl. Mound ½ cup of the cheese mixture on top of each of 4 bread slices, pressing the cheese together slightly. Top each with 4 basil leaves. Cover with the remaining bread slices. Brush both sides of the sandwiches with melted butter.
Toast the sandwiches in a preheated panini grill for 3 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted.
Or, toast both sides of the sandwiches in a skillet or stovetop grill pan over medium heat. Place another heavy skillet, bottom down, on top of the sandwiches and press gently for even browning.
Depending on the size of your panini grill or skillet, it may be necessary to toast 2 sandwiches at a time.
Cut each sandwich into 4 strips and serve with the Balsamic Dip.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor