I have a great twist on a favorite comfort food for tonight’s Twisted Tuesday. Thanks to Matt (Katie and Ryan’s friend), who suggested that I make a grilled cheese on cornbread.
Genius…my friend…pure genius.
I know that a lot of people love to dunk their sandwich into their soup… I also know that some of you are in complete disagreement about the sandwich dunk…I understand, I’m with you. I’m a non-dunker. I know, right? Prudy, who always claims how much she loves a million flavors popping with every bite, doesn’t dunk her sandwich.
I am now a certified dunker.
While I was strolling through the cheese shop at my beloved Wegmans trying to decide on a cheese that would go well with cornbread, one of the girls who works there, Caitlyn, came up to me and asked if she could help me. I told her what I was doing, and without hesitation, and complete confidence… she said “Fontina”.
Fontina? I admit it, I was taken aback. It’s cornbread. I had Monterey Jack on my mind. But Fontina? I took her advice, and bought it. I’m glad I did. Caitlyn knew exactly what she was talking about.
What would go well with Fontina and cornbread? I thought that roasted tomatoes and peppers would bring great flavor. While Fontina is a semi-soft cheese, it has a pretty strong flavor… a sharpness to it that could hold up very well with the tomatoes and peppers. Caitlyn likened it to Swiss. Spot on.
But what soup? The first question that came to mind was, what is the most favorite companion to grilled cheese? That’s easy. Tomato soup.
Since I already planned on tomatoes for the sandwich, and because it was Twisted Tuesday, I didn’t want to do tomato soup. It had to be the same meal, but different. Instead, I went with a roasted red pepper soup.
The soup was the perfect complement to the sandwich. The flavors were all meant for each other…and the next part is all a blur…it happened so fast, I didn’t know what was happening….and I’m not even sure how long it was going on before I realized that I was dunking the sandwich. I was dunking my grilled cheese in my soup. And loving every minute of it!
The sweetness of the red pepper soup, along with the background pepper jack taste went so well with the sweet cornbread, and the tang of the Fontina cheese and tomatoes. One might argue that it was too much cheese for the meal, and I’d just argue back that you can never have too much cheese! The roasted pepper on the sandwich brought a slightly mild heat, almost as an afterthought. It changed my whole way of grilled cheese thinking, and honestly? I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my old ways again.
Life is good. It’s melty-tangy cheese mingling with a sweet red pepper kind of good.
Grilled Fontina on Cornbread with Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Just a quick note: I chose cornbread muffins tonight, thinking that not only would they make a cute little round sandwich, but they’d be the perfect portion size. You can use a loaf of cornbread, or any kind of bread for that matter!
You will be slicing the tops off of each muffin. You can save them for another day… eat them right then and there…or freeze them for when you want to make cornbread stuffing!
To blacken the peppers:
Slice the tops off of the peppers, and clean out the seeds. Place the peppers on a foil lined baking sheet. Preheat your oven to broil…and broil the peppers until they are blackened. Remove from the oven and place in a paper bag to steam. This will help the skins to come off easier. After about 15 minutes, remove the peppers from the bag, and peel the skin off of them. Discard the skin.
To roast the tomatoes:
Slice 3 large tomatoes into ¼ – ½ inch slices. Let drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Roast at 350 degrees until the tomatoes are softened and browned, about 15 – 20 minutes.
The Roasted Red Pepper Soup:
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, whole
3 tbsp olive oil
6 Red Peppers, roasted and blackened, skins removed
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
5 sundried tomatoes (jarred, in oil)
½ cup pickled banana pepper rings (drained)
3 cups chicken stock
3 sprigs thyme
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 tsp hot pepper sauce
8 oz pepper jack cheese, cut into small cubes
½ cup sour cream
Sour cream and hot pepper sauce for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add the chicken broth, red peppers, potatoes, carrots, sundried tomatoes, banana pepper rings, thyme, salt, black pepper, and hot pepper sauce. Cover and simmer until the potatoes and carrots have softened. Remove the thyme sprigs, and discard. Remove the soup from heat, and in batches, pulse in food processor until smooth. Return to stock pot, and heat to a slow boil. Turn off heat, and stir in pepper jack cheese until melted. Stir in the sour cream until well blended and creamy.
Serve immediately…garnish with droplets of hot pepper sauce, and a heart of sour cream.
The Grilled Fontina on Cornbread:
4 cornbread muffins
12 oz wedge of Fontina cheese, cut into thick slices
8 slices roasted tomatoes
4 Anaheim peppers, blackened, and skins removed
2 tbsp butter
Slice the top of each muffin off. Slice the base of the muffin in half, as shown in picture. Layer the cheese, tomatoes and peppers on the bottom half of the muffin. Place the other half of the muffin on top.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan, over medium-low heat. Place each sandwich in the frying pan, and fry the one side until golden brown. Flip, and fry the other side until golden brown, about five minutes on each side. If the cheese hasn’t melted by the time that each side is golden, place a lid on the frying pan for a couple of minutes until the cheese has melted. Remove from pan.
Serve with Roasted Red Pepper Soup..Enjoy!