Over the Top Gourmet Mushroom, Tomato and Grilled Cheese Sandwich

A while back, before returning to my roots in California, I worked as a property manager for commercial property rental company. One of the properties I managed was a typical food court. Kiddo and I loved the Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich Shoppe – all they served were grilled cheese sandwiches! While it was a novel idea, it didn’t quite catch on in a city that was overflowing with eateries offering everything from simple sandwiches to Five-Star sensations. The stakes were high, and many dreams of success were dashed. Those that managed to make it succeeded in a big way.  Kiddo and I were sad to see the  Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich Shoppe close.

A few years later, I stumbled upon a great grilled cheese recipe over at Poor Girl Eats Well that was similar to those served at the Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich Shoppe. At the time, Kiddo was really into experimenting and creating his own take on the comfort food we fondly call “grilled cheese”. So he took what he remembered from the past, combined it with the recipe from Poor Girl Eats Well and came up with a grilled cheese sandwich that was to die for delicious. Kiddo loves cheese – Smoked Gouda and Imported Sheep Cheese from Spain are among his favorites. He is our child in so many ways – a pizza loving guy that wanders willingly to the more adventurous side of dining.

The beauty of his creation is that you could serve the sandwich alongside some fries, with a warm cup of Tomato Bisque Soup, or on their own – they are that darn good!

Gourmet Grilled Cheese (8)Thin slices of Black Forest Ham add yet another layer to the sandwich. When offered, Hubby and Kiddo go for the ham. Me? I’m an Heirloom Tomato kind of gal. Tonight Kiddo added blue cheese to his, while I went for a few slices of White Cheddar Chipotle cheese. Or you could just use the cooking techniques, like Hubby. His is the sandwich with American Cheese and Ham. To each their own. Pile it on or keep it simple.

Gourmet Grilled Cheese (7)The most difficult part about this sandwich will be deciding what cheeses to use. Once you’ve done that, gather them together and be ready to pile it on. While you need not work at lightening speed, you’ll want to layer your ingredients quickly – the sooner the cheese is piled on the more time you’ll have for the cheese to melt while the bread reaches golden perfection.

The recipe that follows is my “go to” basic when I want a grilled cheese sandwich that is beyond ordinary. While the recipe calls for buttered bread, sometimes I’ll brush the bread with a little Truffle Oil for an extra treat. And a splash or two of white wine to the mushrooms is another nice touch. The sky’s the limit – so go for it!

Gourmet Mushroom, Tomato & Cheese on Grilled Sourdough
½ Cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
½ Cup Smoked Gouda Cheese, shredded
1 Cup Feta Cheese, crumbled
2-3 Portobello mushrooms
1 Onion, thinly sliced
8 slices of fresh, ripe tomato (16 or so slices if you’re using tomatoes such as Roma)
4 ½ tablespoons Butter, divided
8 Slices Sourdough Bread
Salt & pepper to taste

In a bowl, mix together the shredded cheese, set aside until ready to use.

Butter one side of each slice of bread with about ½ tablespoon of butter and set aside.

Rinse the mushrooms well and slice into thin slices. Set aside until ready to use.

Gourmet Grilled Cheese (1) Gourmet Grilled Cheese (2)In a skillet, melt the remaining ½ tablespoon of butter and add the sliced onions. Sauté over medium heat until they begin to soften and caramelize, turning a light golden color. Add the sliced mushrooms. Season with salt & pepper and sauté for about 2-3 minutes or until mushrooms release their juices. Continue to saute about a minute or so longer, until most of the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat a griddle to about medium heat. You’ll want the bread to grill slowly, giving you plenty of time to pile on all the goodies.

Place the slices of sourdough onto the warm griddle butter side down. (If your griddle isn’t large enough to accommodate all 8 slices of bread, this can be done in batches of 4 slices per batch to create 2 sandwiches at a time).

Gourmet Grilled Cheese (9)Grill bread slices for about 1 minute, then add the cheese mixture to each slice. Cover and allow the steam to melt the cheese for around 1-2 minutes. (A shallow rimmed baking pan about the same size as your griddle works well. Just place up-side-down over the griddle to create a “lid”).

Uncover and add the mushroom & onions to each slice of bread. Add the tomato slices, sprinkle with feta, then put the halves together to create 2 or 4 sandwiches, depending on griddle size. You’ll end up with a sandwich mirrored in layers of cheese, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes with a center of feta cheese.

Continue grilling, turning as necessary with a pair of wide spatulas until both sides of the sandwich are a nice golden brown and everything between them is warm and melted.

Plate the sandwiches, slice in half and serve with plenty of napkins.

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