The 2015 Grilled Cheese RECIPE SHOWDOWN
So...this happened! We finalized the site for this launch, entered our first-ever cooking contest and struggled inexpertly at setting up lighting for all of our photographs. The word 'stressful' doesn't begin to cut it, but neither does the word 'worthwhile' - it was truly a lot of fun.
We concepted our masterpiece over an intense happy hour sesh and decided to pay tribute to 2 things we love and miss in the present moment: Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdales and football season.
Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdales was our happy hour bar for the better part of 3 years. It was our Cheers. This establishment made us friends with a city full of strangers who knew exactly where to find each other at the end of very long days. We sacrificed nothing here. The drinks were always proper and food on point and both at a young professional's price-point. One of our favorite snacks were their take on chicken wings with a tangy bbq sauce and hint of something spicy we couldn't put our finger on for quite some time. They were also frenched, which helped keep our hands just clean enough to lift our martini glasses. Monday and Thursday night football were a dream come true with games playing during happy hour for us west-coasters. But alas, those days are long gone. RIP CPs.
So here we were, happy hour orphans in the middle of May, missing football and with way too much time on our hands when we came across this contest. We had a million ideas, protein options, cheeses and sauces, when we decided nothing would be more true to ourselves than paying homage to Charlie Palmer's and chicken wings.
Because this was for a contest, we focused hard on technique and the final product instead of snapping photos along the way. SORRY!
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
2 carrots, shredded
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
FOR SRIRACHA BARBECUE SAUCE:
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup ketchup
3 heaping tablespoons Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup light beer
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
FOR GORGONZOLA FONDUE:
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons dry vermouth
3/4 cup half and half
1 cup (6 ounces) Wisconsin gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
4 slices freshly made sourdough bread 1 cup (4 ounces)
Wisconsin mozzarella cheese, shredded
Combine mayonnaise and mustard; set aside. Toss carrots and celery with lemon juice in small bowl; set aside.
FOR SRIRACHA BARBECUE SAUCE:
Combine brown sugar, ketchup, Sriracha, soy sauce, salt, garlic powder and honey in saucepan; bring to a boil. Add beer, mix well and lower to simmer for approximately 15 minutes, or until sauce thickens.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season liberally with salt and pepper. In oven-safe skillet, heat remaining tablespoon olive oil and brown chicken on both sides, approximately
5 minutes. Pour sriracha barbecue sauce into skillet; bake until internal temperature of chicken reaches 160°F, approximately 15 minutes.
Remove chicken from oven, transfer to plate and cool. Shred chicken with your hands or 2 forks; transfer to baking dish; arrange in single layer. Preheat broiler to 500°F. Drizzle sauce from skillet over chicken and return to oven until caramelized and crusty, approximately 4 minutes.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in saucepan over medium-low heat. Add minced garlic and sauté 1 minute; do not allow garlic to brown too much. Stir in flour and cook, about 1 minute. Stir in the vermouth. Add half and half, continuing to stir until sauce begins to thicken. Bring sauce to boil; add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and add gorgonzola cheese a little at a time, stirring until completely melted.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in nonstick oven-safe skillet over medium-low heat. Spread mayonnaise-mustard mixture evenly over one side of each bread slice. Place slices, mayonnaise-side-up, in skillet. When bread is slightly golden, flip and grill second side until medium brown and crusty. Remove skillet from heat and place one-fourth of mozzarella on each slice. Broil for 1 minute.
Remove from oven; spread half the chicken over 1 of the slices. Drizzle with generous amount of gorgonzola fondue. Add a heaping pile of the carrot-celery mixture and top with bread slice, cheese-side-down. Repeat construction with second sandwich. Halve sandwiches for serving.