Did you know April is National Grilled Cheese Month? Indeed it is, and when I was approached by Tillamook to be a partner in their Grilled Cheese Recipepalooza, a month-long event dedicated to sharing Grilled Cheese recipes using Tillamook’s all-natural cheese, of course my reply was… “Maybe”. Well, only for a minute, as I eyed the calendar knowing that I would have only three days after returning from a trip to Hong Kong to conjure an awesome grilled cheese. Following that moment of hesitation came a resounding “Yes”!
As the reigning Orange County champ for Most Creative grilled cheese entry last year and a long-time fan of Tillamook’s award winning cheeses, I hope my “Some Like It Hot” Grilled Cheese is up to snuff! In case you’ve never tried their cheese or don’t know what’s so great about Tillamook – they are the kind of company that I wish the U.S. had more of: founded nearly a century ago in Oregon, they have maintained their “grass roots” core values and distinguished themselves as staunch supporters of local and state dairy associations, stewards of the environment, and are nationally recognized for their firm commitment to quality. Tillamook cheese is made with milk from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones – all their suppliers, whether farmer-owners or contract milk suppliers are in compliance certifying that the milk they supply is from cows not supplemented with rBST.
Being able to experiment with a mad variety of grilled cheese sandwiches and then eat the results of my labor definitely felt like an indulgent splurge – there hasn’t been another grilled cheese since our favorite summer savory treat of grilled cheese with homegrown tomatoes! Visions of ooey, gooey cheese concoctions swirled in my mind until at last I settled on a Southwest meets tropical, yin and yang of smoky chipotle and creamy Pepper Jack heat balanced with sunny, bright, sweetness of pineapple, mango, and crunchy red bell pepper.
A grilled cheese is only as good as it’s foundation: the bread. This mouthwatering grilled cheese is proudly sandwiched between tender slices of OC Baking Company’s Potato Sandwich Loaf whose crust, after grilling, added a delightfully crisp edge. OC Baking Company’s award-winning executive artisan baker Dean Kim has been baking handcrafted breads for many of Southern California’s leading hotels and restaurants for nearly 18 years. His breads are the ultimate in artisan bread baking and a staggering array of loaves, buns, rolls, ciabattas and baguettes, makes decisions on which to buy very difficult. And, if you come home with three half loaves (split with friends) of rye, whole grain, and potato, as well as 2 baguettes, as I did, the aroma wafting from the kitchen is as if you baked them yourself that morning!
Let’s get to the sandwich… one more note about the ingredients, fresh pineapple and mango are readily available in southern California and I use them often, but readers have commented that, especially fresh mango, is expensive or unavailable where they live. You can still transport yourself to the islands with tropical flavors of canned pineapple (packed in pineapple juice, not sweetened syrup) and dried mango, as used here Enjoy!
“Some Like it Hot” Grilled Cheese Sandwich
A grilled cheese with attitude: a hint of heat from creamy pepper jack cheese and a touch of smoky chipotle mayo + cool, sweet tropical flavors of pineapple and mango = love at first bite.
by Priscilla Willis ~ 4.10.12 Prep time: 20 minutes Total time: 30 minutes
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup pineapple*, diced
3 strips dried mango, diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
2 slices Tillamook medium cheddar*
2 slices Tillamook pepper jack
4 slices potato or whole grain bread
olive oil for grilling
*Note: canned Chipotle peppers (packed in adobo sauce) can be found in most supermarkets. Fresh pineapple is my preference, but canned will do. Tillamook’s award-winning medium cheddar chimes in here to temper the heat for those with tender taste buds – otherwise go all out with the pepper jack.
1. Measure one tablespoon of chipotle peppers (refrigerate the remainder of for future use). Place in a mini food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add the mayonnaise and olive oil and process until blended.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the diced pineapple, mango, and red pepper. If using canned pineapple make sure to drain well. Makes about 1 cup of fruit salsa.
3. Heat a cast iron or other heavy skillet or grill over medium-low heat. Using a pastry or grill brush, brush one side of each slice of bread lightly with olive oil. Place bread, oiled side down, on a cutting board. Spread each slice with chipotle mayonnaise. Place one slice of cheese on each slice of bread. Add a tablespoon of the fruit salsa to one side of each sandwich, spread to cover bread. Place partner slice of bread with cheese on top and transfer to heated skillet.
4. Cook for about 3 minutes per until golden brown then, using a spatula, carefully turn over to brown the other side, about 2-3 more minutes . Watch carefully. Optional: cover with a pot lid to trap the heat to make sure the cheese melts – must have melted cheese!
Yield: 2 sandwiches
Now go eat some grilled cheese!
Disclaimer: I received no compensation, except in the form of cheese, all opinions are my own.