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Your Grilled Cheese Needs a Splash of Wine 

Moisture makes aged cheese act young again.
By Published Sept. 1, 2022

The classic grilled cheese conundrum: Young cheeses are tasteless but melt perfectly; aged ones have bold, sharp nuttiness and complexity but “break” into a greasy heap when heated. So what’s a grilled-cheese-craving cheese snob to do? 

Add a little wine, of course.

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Why Adding Liquid Works

No, really—there’s some science to this. It has to do with what happens to cheese when it ages and when it melts.

Cheese is an emulsion of fat and water bound up by a network of casein proteins. As it ages, cheese dries out, which increases its flavor and complexity but also tightens up that protein matrix and makes it harder for the cheese to flow smoothly when heated. With enough heat, the matrix will break down and clump, and the fat will leak out.

So to make grilled cheese sandwiches with tasty aged varieties such as extra-sharp cheddar, Gryuère, Compté, and Asiago, I realized I had to get some moisture back into the mix. And that’s where the wine comes in: It’s a source of both moisture and flavor that pairs perfectly with cheese (think: fondue).

How to Improve Your Grilled Cheese with Wine

  1. Pick a favorite aged cheese: To make 2 sandwiches, cut 3½ ounces of the cheese into 12 equal pieces.
  2. Blitz it in a food processor with wine and Brie: Add a tablespoon of dry white wine or vermouth and an ounce of Brie—an excellent melter that reinforces the moisture in the mix and adds buttery flavor—until the mixture forms a paste.
  3. Add a little more depth to the paste (optional): Work in an assertive seasoning. Shallot, cornichons, dates, chipotle chile in adobo, and fresh soft herbs all work well. 
  4. Spread the paste between slices of buttered bread: For a bit of oomph, mix a little Dijon with the butter before anointing the slices).
  5. Griddle sandwiches: Cook in a preheated nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, about 6 minutes per side, until the cheese has melted and the bread is crispy and brown on both sides. 
Watch this video.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.