Anyone aspiring to top honors at Seattle Cheese Festival’s grilled cheese contest has until May 1 to perfect their recipe. What’s that you say? Your ’wich is more mess than masterpiece?
Cue Thierry Rautureau of Rover’s. Those who caught him on Top Chef Masters two weeks ago will vouch the man knows his grilled cheese—that gooey specimen he whipped up for the Quickfire Challenge looked ever so tasty.
Here, Rautureau’s roadmap for crafting an award-winning sandwich. Your first and foremost consideration: “There’s nothing worse than having a dry piece of cheese between two dry pieces of bread."
Bread: Rautureau recommends a sourdough or baguette, preferably from Columbia City Bakery.
Cheese: Goat, specifically the curd-like caillé, and taleggio. Spread the caillé on the inside of both slices of bread, and melt the taleggio on the outside. This outer film yields a crunchiness and flakiness and gives it texture, a key component of a good sandwich. The caillé adds a freshness of flavor and the ever-important moistness Rautureau alludes to above.
Other ingredients: Rautureau says practically any ingredient can work, and for this contest you are allowed up to six. You’ll remember Rautureau used harissa on Top Chef Masters. This, he says, packs heat, and the chili sauce certainly adds interest. Other ones to consider: caramelized onions, roasted bell peppers, and arugula. Before serving, splash a touch of olive oil in the middle of the sandwich.
Preparation: Contrary to common thinking, there’s no need to load the bread with butter—or any, for that matter. Rateaureau doesn’t. (“Strangely enough, for a Frenchman,” he quips.) Cook either in the oven or on the stovetop, but note this is “not a science of time” and more about preference. Check after one minute—that should do it if you’re after a blonder sandwich—then flip.
And voilà! Now get practicing. Time’s tickin’.