A Gluten-free Grilled Cheese
When I set out to develop a new grilled cheese, I wanted to accomplish a few things:
First, I wanted it to be quick and easy. This is a must for any grilled cheese in my book.
Second, I wanted to burn some cheese. For me there is nothing better than cheese that slips through the holes or escapes from between the slices and is kissed by the heat of the pan and transformed into a chewy burnt magical state.
Third, I wanted to buck convention. You may have noticed that we cheesemongers have a high level of interest in grilled cheese as a medium for our cheese. So every monger at Di Bruno Bros. and everywhere else has weighed in on their version of the classic. Mine had to be different. Goodbye bread. Don’t get me wrong. I love bread. I have a healthy fear of people with gluten allergies. I know I can’t catch it but I would be lost without bread. So I chose something else I love for the cheese to hitch a ride to Tastytown. You are welcome Celiacers.
Gigante Beans from the antipasto bar. Giant, tangy, creamy beans that taste like a hug. Gigante Beans are my snack of choice when I’m a little peckish and I don’t want to cook. So I am putting them on center stage.
Now for the cheese. I figured we would keep it Italian and on the younger side. Cheeses under 6 months old melt better, its a fact. Cell structures in younger cheeses are more pliable and less likely to break down and get oily. As a cheese ages its cell walls become more brittle and will break down when heated, resulting in an oily mess. I chose to honor Tuscany, home of great bean cookery by choosing Pecorino Toscano Fresco. A young sheep’s milk cheese from Tuscany. Cacio di Roma would work as well.
Figuring out how to bring Bean and Cheese together was easy. A cake, like a crab cake, is super fast to make and allows the cheese to directly contact the heating surface. Maximum burnt cheese accomplished. Yes!
Drain the beans. Save the oil vinegar mixture that drains off. You are going to cook with it. If you have more than 2 tablespoons use it in a salad dressing (beans should be in the salad too, you should buy more beans, trust me). Mash the drained beans with a fork in a bowl. Leave it a little chunky for texture. It should look like this.
Shred that cheese. Use a box shredder. Set aside a four pinches of cheese to add to the outside of the cakes. Season the rest of the cheese and beans with salt and pepper and mix until combined. Add a beaten egg now if you want. It will help it set up better but it isn’t necessary. Form the mixture into two cakes. Thinner if you want more crust, thicker if you want more ooey gooey on the inside.
Press the reserved cheese onto the outside of the cakes. This will guarantee burnt cheese nirvana. Preheat your cast iron skillet (never been washed) on medium high heat and add oil. If you don’t have cast iron, non-stick will work too. Watch out it is going to spit a little, there is a lot of water in that bean oil.
Place your cakes in the pan and DO NOT TOUCH THEM FOR AT LEAST TWO MINUTES. You will ruin the burnt cheese crust if you do. Use a spatula to peak under the cakes if they are gold brown give em a flip and DO NOT TOUCH THEM FOR AT LEAST TWO MINUTES. You get the idea. When they are brown and beautiful on both sides use a spatula to rescue them from the pan. Season with salt and WAIT FIVE MINUTES for them to rest, just like a steak they will be better after a rest.
Grilled cheese for everyone!
If you want to try this and can’t find gigante beans, try butter beans or corona beans.
More grilled cheese goodness coming soon!