Welcome to April! Remember when I said Montana springs are a bit wintery? It is literally 12 degrees as I write this (Fahrenheit, in case you’re reading from a sane country). Good thing it’s perfect grilled cheese weather.
Last year I discovered that not only is April 12 my dad’s birthday, but it is National Grilled Cheese Day, and April is National Grilled Cheese Month. This inspired a delightful series of posts and I’m back with four all-new flavors for this year – check back weekly for each new addition.
Starting off the series is a traditional pairing, apple and gouda, with a twist – apple cider bread. Inspired by my beer bread recipe, I substituted hard cider in the bread with great success last fall. For this sandwich, I nixed the Brie and also the sugar since all I had around was a pretty sweet bottle of Angry Orchard. If you’re using a dry cider, as I recommend, feel free to leave that bit of sugar in there; it adds a touch of caramel flavor to the bread.
There are many grilled cheeses on the internet that call for apple, but most of them do not suggest you roast the apples first. I think this is a mistake as apples take much longer to cook than bread or cheese, and it will result in a possibly cold but definitely crunchy apple in the middle. If that’s what you’re going for (like if it’s not twelve degrees at your house) by all means skip the apple roasting step. For a softer, cozier, and more cohesive apple and cheese experience, pop the apples in the oven for a bit while you slice your bread and cheese and get them warm and tender.
Rich Gouda and sweet apples are a wonderful match as is, but the cider bread adds a brand new twist and a delicious savory dimension. The bread is a critical component of the Grilled Cheese Experience™ and not to be overlooked. However, if you don’t want to plan a day ahead to make a batch of bread, sourdough would be an acceptable substitution.
I always cook my grilled cheese open face and then sandwich them at the end – this allows the fillings to melt more evenly and more quickly but it does take up more space. If you’re cooking for a crowd, layer all the fillings on one slice of bread and cook those with the lid on until mostly warmed and the bread is golden, then top with your second slice and flip to finish them out.
Get out your frying pans and prepare yourselves for some new adventures in grilled cheese. Be sure to let me know how yours turn out!
Apple Gouda Grilled Cheese
Makes one sandwich
2 slices apple cider bread (I recommend using a dry cider and no Brie)
2-3 thin slices Gouda
1 small Granny Smith apple
olive oil or butter
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees1. Line a baking sheet with silicon mat or parchment paper.
- Peel (optional), core, and thinly slice apple.
- Arrange apple slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, and bake until fork tender, 10-20 minutes depending on thickness.
- In a medium frying pan (with lid!) over low-medium heat, warm the oil or butter.
- Arrange both slices of bread in the pan, and top each with half the Gouda.
- Place the lid on the pan and gently cook until cheese is warm (Gouda does not always get as melty in appearance as other cheeses) and bread is golden brown.
- Layer warm apple2 on one of the bread slices (if your apple isn’t just out of the oven, you can add it at the same time as the cheese to warm.)
- Flip the slice without apples on top of the other (cheese sides together) and cook for 30-60 seconds more.
- Serve immediately; goes great with a hard cider!
1 You can also use the broiler, but lower the oven rack below center and pay close attention so they don’t get crisp.
2 You will have leftover apple but it makes a great snack with a sprinkle of cinnamon, or is perfect for tomorrow’s oatmeal.
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