Grilled Cheese with Red Jalapeno Flake Butter

Grilled Cheese with Red Jalapeno Flake Butter
Grilled Cheese with Red Jalapeno Flake Butter

Is there a food that’s more comforting than an ooey, gooey grilled cheese sandwich, with loads of melty cheese hugged by toasty slices of buttery, golden-crusted bread? We think not. And we also think, despite its long-standing status as an American favorite, that there are improvements we can make on the standard grilled cheese sammy.

Initially, we wanted to give a surprise kick to this sandwich with the Red Jalapeno Flakes. These flakes are from jalapenos that are allowed to mature without smoke-drying them like a Chipotle Chile. They’re jalapeno-spicy and retain a bit of the pepper’s sweet, berry-like flavor; adding them to this sandwich—particularly in the toasting butter—gives these flakes the chance to create a bold initial taste sensation. They’re the very first thing you’ll taste, and issue a spicy, fruity salvo to any previous notions you may have had about grilled cheese.

Next, we added roasted tomatoes to our sandwich. When they’re thinly sliced and roasted with garlic and vinegar these tomatoes turn savory and sweet. Since most of the moisture cooks out of them they also develop a little bit of a toothsome chewiness that adds a little bit of succulent texture to the dish. Tossing the tomatoes with the Red Jalapeno Flakes gives you the opportunity to insert some peppery heat directly into the center of your sandwich, too, so it’s extra-warm and extra-welcoming. You can even prepare the tomatoes a day or two ahead of time if you have the oven on and you want to save some time. The sandwiches come together pretty quickly once the tomatoes are ready to go.

Since this is full-on comfort food, we want you to come at it as joyfully as you can, so we’re giving you permission to play with your food. Pick the cheeses you want! According to our in-house chef, this is the time to be creative, because there are plenty of cheeses that will deliver terrific flavor and texture. He suggests you pick one cheese that’s creamy, but assertive, one cheese that’s mild with great meltability, and one sharp cheese with a bite. For the assertive cheese that’s got a bit of a funky bite behind its soft exterior, we used Port Salut. This velvety French cow’s milk cheese develops a bit of a mushroomy smell as it ages, though it tastes mellow and creamy, with a bit of acidity. If you don’t want or can’t find Port Salut, look for Taleggio cheese or some earthy Camembert.

Then we selected the mild, supremely melty, fresh Mozzarella, for its great stretch and familiar chew. If that’s not available or if you’re feeling playful, try mellow Dutch Gouda, Danish Havarti, or fabulously mild Queso Oaxaca.

Sharp Cheddar Cheese is the easy cheese to pick when you want something bold. If you want to look beyond the cheddar, try some Provolone—bonus points if you pick a smoked Provolone—or some Swiss cheese. Most cheese that have a little bit harder of a texture will be able to give you the bite that you want to balance the creaminess of the other cheeses in the sandwich.

Once you have your cheeses sliced, layer them with the tomatoes on the sandwich, get your spicy butter ready to go on your stovetop, and cook those sandwiches until they are golden-brown and oozing with cheesy fun. Serve these right away—with a side salad if you want to make a nod to healthy eating, or with a steaming bowl of tomato soup if you like to dunk your grilled cheese for the ultimate comfort meal.

 Print Recipe

Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 75 min.
Cuisine: American
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Red Jalapeno Flakes, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • 4 oz Port Salut cheese
  • 4 oz fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • 4 oz sharp Cheddar Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Thinly slice Roma tomatoes and toss with 2 tsp Red Jalapeno Flakes, olive oil, garlic, Fine Sea Salt, and red wine vinegar. Place tomatoes evenly spaced on a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for roughly an hour or until most of the moisture has evaporated.

3. Heat butter and 1 tbsp Red Jalapeno a large skillet on the stove, over medium heat. Layer bread with 1 oz Port Salut, then 1 oz Fresh Mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, and finally the Cheddar.

4. Cook the sandwich in the Red Jalapeno Flake butter until golden brown and the cheese is melted, covering the skillet with a lid if necessary to aid in melting the cheese. Flip once to brown both sides.

5. Remove from heat and serve right away.