November 11, 2010

Ultimate Grilled Cheese

My girlfriends, Claire, Jenn N., and I actually got to meet Ina and get her latest cookbook autographed!!! We ditched our kids and had ourselves a "girls' day" by going to Ina Garten's cookbook signing, held at Sur La Table in Scottsdale yesterday afternoon. It was soooo much fun! Seriously, it was the best girls' day I have had in awhile!!! After the signing we had a fabulous lunch at Zinc Bistro, and did some shopping.

Ina, lunch, and shopping...what's better than that?!?!?!?

I must say, Ina really was so sweet and gracious...just as nice in person as she is on her show. I heart her even more now!

To commemorate my awesome day, I felt it was only fitting to make a Barefoot Contessa recipe from Ina's new book, Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?. This was pretty much the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever eaten. Hands down. Trust me. Ina always pulls through with a shining star!

Ultimate Grilled Cheese
From: Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? cookbook, 2010

12 slices thick-cut bacon, such as Nodine’s applewood smoked
1 cup good mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 white pullman loaf or sourdough bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick (12 slices)
6 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature (for spreading, you probably won’t use it all)
6 ounces aged Gruyere or Comte cheese
6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, such as Cabot or Shelburne Farms

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange the bacon on a baking rack set over a sheet pan in a single layer and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until nicely browned. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels and cut in 1-inch pieces.

2. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Lay 12 slices of bread on a board and spread each one lightly with butter. Flip the slices and spread each one generously with the mayonnaise mixture. Don’t neglect the corners!

3. Grate the cheeses in a food processor fitted with the largest grating disk and combine. Distribute the bacon evenly on half the slices of bread. Pile 1/3 cup grated cheese evenly on top of the bacon and top with the remaining bread slices, sauce side down.

4. Heat an electric panini press. When the press is hot, cook the sandwiches for 3 to 5 minutes in batches until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. (Or, heat a nonstick skillet on medium-low, place two sandwiches at a time inside, and use a lightweight metal cake pan to weigh them down gently. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the sandwiches, press them down with the cake pan, and cook for about 2 minutes, until golden brown. Repeat until all of the sandwiches are done.)

5. Allow the sandwiches to cool for 2 minutes. Cut in half, and serve warm.

The Result:
Drool-worthy. Soooo delicious and decadent! I halved this recipe for my little family and it was perfect. A perfect end to a perfect day!

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