Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It ain't easy being cheesy.

The 1st 7th Annual Los Angeles Grilled Cheese Invitational was held this past Saturday April 25, 2009. Top Burnt Chef with sous-chefs Hovin, Chivon, and Alice competed alongside 300 other cheesy enthusiasts in front of a crowd of over 2000. Kraft Singles was on hand grilling over 14,000 grilled cheeses for the hungry spectators while Izze provided refreshing beverages. I must have drank 3 or 4 green apple sodas. Competitors were separated into 3 categories: "Missionary" (strictly bread, cheese, and butter NO additional flavorings), "Kama Sutra" (anything goes but it must be grilled and be 60% cheese) and the Honey Pot (like the Kama Sutra but on a sweeter side).

Team Top Burnt Chef competed in the Honey Pot category. We thought we would make a good showing with our sandwich "Honey's Got the Blues," a sweet gorgonzola, Bartlett pear and Bosc pear jam sandwich on Challah bread fried in butter then drizzled with honey but it didn't fare to well with the judges. It earned an "uk" from the judges although Team Top Burnt Chef's sous chefs are still debating that the "uk" was really a hastily written "ok."

It was so crowded that I didn't really get to see too many other sandwiches but there were several that stuck out in my mind. One was a comte and aged Utah cheddar on sourdough cooked in clarified brown butter and then sprinkled with sea salt from the Great Salt Lake. That sandwich won judges' favorite. One that sounded super gross but was popular with the crowd was an Indian curry grilled cheese on naan bread. In the dessert category, someone had a "cheesecake sandwich," which was a slice of cheesecake on bread made from graham flour then drizzled with rasberry coulis and chocolate sauce. I don't think technically that is a grilled cheese but it won 1st place in the Honey Pot.

Even though I lost and my creation was deemed disgusting, I had a great time and I can't wait to do it again next year. I am already dreaming up of new cheesy creations. Thanks again to Hovin, Chivon, and Alice. You guys rock! In the excitement of it all, I forgot to take a picture of my sandwich but here is the recipe for the "uk" sandwich!

Honey's Got the Blues
makes 2

Quick Homemade Pear Jam
(3 lb pear
2 cups sugar
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 box Sur-Jell fruit pectin)

4 slices Challah bread
6 TBSP room temperature butter
4 oz Gorgonzola Dolce
Bartlett pear, quartered, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick

1. For the pear jam, peel, core and chop pears. Cook in large pot with sugar until it starts to look like apple sauce. I like to mash it with a potato masher too. Then follow the directions on the pectin box.
2. To assemble the sandwich, butter 1 side of each slice with the room temperature butter. On non-buttered sides spread with 1 oz of cheese. Spoon pear jam on two of the slices and top with remaining slices.
3. In the pre-heated skillet, place 1 TBSP of butter. After it stops foaming place sandwiches in skillet. Cook until golden brown and then flip and cook other side.
4. When both sides are golden brown, lift from skillet and place on cutting board. Let sandwich rest a few minutes.
5. After sandwich has rested, cut into 2 wedges. Pry open each half and place pear slices in shingles. Replace sandwich top and place on serving plate.
6. Drizzle with honey. Serve.

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