“One Pot” Grilled Cheese and Brussels Sprouts
Grilled cheese is one of those all-American comfort foods. I do mine a little differently, because technically, mine is really more roasted. I start by preheating my cast iron skillet in the oven to 450 degrees. Actually, that’s a lie. About 45 minutes to an hour before I start the whole enterprise, I take out the butter and let it soften. While the butter is softening (if you need to give it a hand, put it on top of your stove, but be careful, as the radiant heat will soften it quickly) and the oven is heating, I prep everything else.
Begin with the bread. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a fan of Old Town Baking Company’s hearty six-grain bread, which has no sugar added to it. Next, the cheese. I like to combine two varieties. Spring Hill, an organic cheesemaker, makes numerous fantastic cheeses that melt really well. In the grilled cheese pictured above, I’m using a sage cheddar and a smoked jack. I cut them in strips and lay them out on top of one slice. Once I’ve figured out how much cheese I need, I remove it to a temporary staging area (e.g. wax paper). Why? Because now it’s time to butter the bread. Give one side of each slide of the bread a generous coating, so that it’s completely covered. I then flip one slice, so the bottom slice’s butter is facing up, and the top slice’s butter is facing down (butter on butter, so to speak). Return the cheese to the top slice.
Next, my secret weapon: shallot. Slice it thin, and spread it over the cheese. One small shallot is plenty; it’s going to roast inside the sandwich. The grilled cheese sandwich is now ready to go, but to me, just having the sandwich has always felt a little incomplete. Usually, I’ll make a side salad, but this time I have an idea: I like Brussels sprouts, and the grilled cheese isn’t going to take up all of the cast iron skillet, so why not roast some sprouts in there?! Normally, I’d put them in at a slightly lower temperature (maybe 400 degrees), but I’d also leave them in for longer. So hopefully the higher heat and shorter cooking time balance out.
Rinse and chop the bottoms off perhaps half a dozen medium-sized Brussels sprouts, then cut them in half. Give them a quick toss in olive oil, then season them with chili flakes, dried basil, salt and pepper. And now it’s time…
Take the top half of the sandwich (the one with the cheese and shallots on top) and place it butter side down in the freshly out of the oven skillet. Now cover with the bottom half, butter side facing up. The grilled cheese is assembled, and the second that first slice hits the skillet, you should hear some sizzling action. Dump your Brussels sprouts into the skillet around it and return the skillet to the oven. After about six minutes, pull it out long enough to flip the sandwich with a spatula, and then back in for another six minutes. The sandwich is now done. Remove it from the skillet and plate it. You may want to return the skillet with the Brussels sprouts to the oven for another three minutes or so (I did), at which point they should have softened a bit and picked up a bit of caramelization. (Mine did, and they were great!) If cheese from the sandwich melts and drips into the pan, have no fear. Just mix it in with the Brussels sprouts.
And that’s it. You’ve got your grilled cheese and your veggies and only one pan to clean.
2 slices of your choice of bread
Butter, enough to cover one side of each slide
2 cheeses of your choice (things like jack and cheddar melt well)
1 small shallot
About half a dozen medium sized Brussels sprouts, halved
Olive oil, enough to coat your sprouts
Salt and pepper