Just in case you needed another reason to look forward to the end of March, A Toute Heure has labeled April “Grilled Cheese Month.” Their Sous Chef Kelly Zavala was nice enough to meet with me and talk about some of her favorite grilled cheese combinations, as well as the secrets to the perfect grilled cheese.
When asked what ingredients she adds to her grilled cheeses, Chef Zavala ticked off some of her favorites: bacon, jam, fruit, pulled pork, vegetables, fresh herbs – the list truly is endless. Some of the flavor combinations Chef Zavala has put out at A Toute Heure include Jalapeno Jam with Bacon and Cheddar; Corned Beef, Cabbage and Swiss for St. Patrick’s Day; Pears, Beet Pesto and Brie; and Ramp Jam, Bacon and Cheddar. Are you inspired yet?
Like any sandwich, a grilled cheese starts with the bread. Chef Zavala recommends using a hearty white bread as that will brown up nicely. The next step isn’t a surprise – butter. Lots and lots of butter. When she makes a grilled cheese at home Chef Zavala’s 6-year-old daughter is in charge of smearing the bread with softened butter. Once the bread is buttered, then you can really let your creativity shine. The choice of cheese is one that people can tailor to their tastes. Chef Zavala’s favorite cheeses are ones that will give you the perfect melty consistency, like brie and provolone, while goat cheese is also very popular at the restaurant.
Once you’ve decided on your fillings and the sandwich is assembled, place the buttered side down in a cast-iron pan on medium heat. When the bread turns golden brown, flip the sandwich and pop it in a 350 degree oven for 3-5 minutes. Cooking it in the oven will help the cheese melt and give you the ooey-gooey consistency that great grilled cheese sandwiches are known for.
A Toute Heure’s grilled cheese sandwiches are one of the most popular items on their lunch menu. They offer them every day, but Chef Zavala is really planning to let her creativity shine in April. So stop by and see what delicious grilled cheeses she comes up with – maybe you’ll be inspired to take your own sandwich to the next level.