Sunday, July 18, 2010

Grilled cheese with truffles

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This weekend I threw a little truffle party. Okay, kind of a big truffle party. Warning: If you don't like truffles, you might want to check back with me in a few weeks. Thirteen courses = many recipes ahead that included black summer truffles, starting with this gourmet grilled cheese with truffles. Prepare yourself.

So how did it start, this truffle obsession? Well, last year I got a great deal on black summer truffles from Italy from my friends at Specialty Produce in San Diego. My husband and I threw an impromptu party we dubbed Trufflepalooza - nine courses of truffles (and lots of fun for the chef too). Many photos were taken, and I blogged about it. That's turned out to be one of my most popular posts ever. Seems like other people are as taken with truffles as I am. It seemed clear that once was not enough.

And so Trufflepalooza II was born. This year I put in a little more advance planning. After last year's party I met the folks in the Los Angeles branch of Sabatino Tartufi, one of the biggest importers of fresh truffles from Italy and manufacturer of exquisite truffle salt, butter and oils. They supplied the truffles I got from Specialty Produce, and they stuck a card in the box because they wanted to know what kind of crazy non-professional home chef wanted to buy a pound of their truffles. Naturally, Sabatino and I became fast friends. The first time we had lunch, the Sabatino rep took a call on his cell phone at the table: I would have been insulted, but it was his mother phoning from Italy. In addition to the fact that he is an extremely nice and handsome Italian man - and what girl doesn't need more of those in her life? - the Sabatino guy is great company, often comes bearing truffle condiments and samples as gifts, and makes a mean risotto.

I called Sabatino to find out when the black summer truffles would be at their peak, and we set a date for Trufflepalooza 2010. Then I went to work on the menu. I meant to keep it simple, but I kept thinking of new things to do with those glorious truffles, and we ended up with 13 courses. You'll hear about them all over the next few weeks, but one of my favorites was this decadent grilled cheese with truffles.

For me, the ultimate grilled cheese starts with good bread and good cheese. I special-ordered brioche loaves from Le Pain du Jour, a small French bakery in Santa Monica. I used fontina because I love its buttery flavor and the way it oozes when it melts. A shower of grated truffle, a few drops of truffle oil, and a bit of butter, and you've got the best grilled cheese ever. EVER. Trust me.

Grilled cheese with truffles
Lay two pieces of bread on a cutting board. Divide the cheese evenly between the two slices of brioche. Sprinkle a few drops of truffle oil and a pinch of truffle salt on each slice, then grate over a little of the fresh truffle. Top with the other slices of bread. Butter or oil the outside of the top slices.

Put a skillet on the stove over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, put the sandwiches buttered- or oiled-side down. Press down with a spatula as the sandwich is toasting to flatten the sandwiches a bit. Butter or oil the sides facing up, then flip the sandwiches when the bottoms are golden brown. Cook until both sides are perfectly golden and toasted. Cut in half and serve immediately.

Two notes: First, for Trufflepalooza II, I actually made these in the oven, as making grilled cheese for 70 people on the stove would take quite a long time. But they're better made stovetop. Second, I know truffle oil and truffle salt look expensive. But they're worth the splurge, because you only use a little and the last a long time. Treat yourself.

Grilled Cheese


Dorothy from Shockinglydelicious said...

OMG those sammies were good!
Do you shave the truffle with a microplane? I meant to ask you that.

Erika Kerekes said...

Yes, I grated it with a Microplane zester. According to Franco, winter truffles are more intense and can (should) be shaved in slices. Summer truffles need to be grated to release their full flavor. And whatever Franco says goes.

Monet said...

So I'm rather simple, I could be completely happy with a grilled cheese, but truffles??? how amazing this must taste. I think if I took a bite, I might just drift up to foodie heaven!

Erika Kerekes said...

You would indeed. But then you'd come back down, eat more truffles, and float some more. It's a completely transporting and transformational experience, the truffle.

P.S. We have lots of leftovers. Come on over.

marla {family fresh cooking} said...

Erika, I am so thrilled that I go to indulge all the senses at your Trufflepalooza 2. You have a great gift with food, everything you prepared was amazing! The addition of fontina to these sandwiches was perfect. Can't wait to read more re-caps! xo

Lynne @ CookandBeMerry said...

I can attest that these grilled cheese were amazing. I think the brioche really took them to the next plateau. And then the truffles..whoa ..heady stuff.

Rachael Hutchings said...

My whole family agrees that these were amazing!

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

YES! I came over from Savour Fare hoping against hope that there would be a pic of the truffle grilled cheese sandwich, and there is! My heart is beating just a little faster and I feel a trifle faint...

Erika Kerekes said...

@Marla and Lynne - I'm so glad both of you were there to share the truffle joy. Mark it on your calendars for next summer. It's a tradition now.

@Rocky - so glad to meet you and that the grilled cheese photo lived up to your gooey expectations!

christine said...

Hello! I found this blog in Foodista and followed it here. This is a lovely blog and awesome Grilled cheese with truffles recipe. Reminds me of mom's recipe and it was superb, I bet yours is excellent too! By the way you can place more Foodista widget in your past and future blogs so that other Foodista readers can follow and see your blog too. Just search for a related recipe or food in Foodista and use its widget. I hope to read more from you. Cheers!

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