Friday, January 7, 2011

Melting Point

When it comes to cold-weather comforts, few things quell a craving like grilled cheese. Although it may seem like an oversimplified concept to build a restaurant around, chefs across the country are hedging their bets on the straightforward childhood favorite. The Italian cheese used in this recipe copied from The Foundry on Melrose, Taleggio, has a strong aroma, but its flavor is comparatively mild with an unusual fruity tang. Its crust is thin and studded with salt crystals, which makes it a perfect pair of the sweet and savory tastes we crave.

Much More than a Grilled Cheese
15 dried apricots
1 tablespoon nonpareil capers
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 slices dark raisin bread
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
4 small handfuls arugula
8 ounces Taleggio cheese, rind removed, at room temperature
4 pinches sea salt

PLACE the apricots in a small saucepan and add water just to cover. Over high heat, bring the apricots to a full boil, then immediately remove from the heat. Mix in the capers, mustard and olive oil.

TRANSFER to a blender and pulse to a chunky consistency; set aside.

SPREAD one side of each slice of bread evenly (to the edges) with 1/2 tablespoon butter. With buttered sides down, top four slices with 2 tablespoons of the apricot mixture, one handful of arugula and equal portions of cheese. Cover with the remaining four slices, buttered side up.

PLACE a large skillet over high heat, and melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Reduce the heat to low and add the sandwiches. Cook until browned and crisp on both sides, about 2 minutes a side. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels, and sprinkle each with a pinch of sea salt. Cut each sandwich in half and serve.

NOTE: Makes 4 Servings

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