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Hog Island Grilled Cheese

This grilled cheese sandwich is a favorite among San Franciscans. Never mind that it comes to hungry diners by way of an oyster bar. At Hog Island Oyster Bar, people line up for oysters as well as for this sandwich, the restaurant’s one concession to the fruits of the land. There, they use a northern California cheese called St. George, but because that’s not widely available I’ve substituted cheddar and Havarti, which together taste very similar to St. George. A word of caution: Keep plenty of napkins on hand for this!–Laura Werlin

LC Nonconformist Grilled Cheese Note

Have you taken a gander at the ingredients for this recipe from cheese authority Laura Werlin? It relies on a rather unconventional array of cheeses in arguably excessive amounts. Not only that, she proceeds to instruct us to heat the sandwich in a pan that’s covered part of the time. Blasphemy! Or so we thought. Then we tried it…

What To Sip Note: When we called the good folks at Hog Island and inquired what they recommended sipping with their masterpiece, a very decent guy named Bob explained, “I like to recommend drinking whatever wine you like with whatever food.” Amen to that. Still, he did offer a little more for those who don’t quite trust their instincts. “There’s not any pairing that makes it stand out more. If you care for a red, maybe a pinot. If you’d like a little acidity to cut the richness, maybe try a sauvignon blanc.” Thank you, Bob. We will.

Hog Island Grilled Cheese Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 30 M
  • Makes 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • About 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 8 relatively thick slices sourdough or pain au levain bread
  • 4 ounces fromage blanc
  • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated (you could swap Comté or Swiss)
  • 4 ounces Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (up to you how sharp a Cheddar)
  • 4 ounces Havarti cheese, coarsely grated

Directions

  • 1. Butter one side of each slice of bread, using all of the butter. Place 4 of the slices, buttered side down, on a parchment-lined counter or a cutting board. Spread 1/4 of the fromage blanc on the plain side of each of those 4 slices, then top each with 1/4 of the Gruyère, 1/4 of the Cheddar, and 1/4 of the Havarti. You may need to use your hand to squash the cheese a little to keep it from falling off the bread. Top each teetering tower of cheese with one of the remaining bread slices, buttered side up.
  • 2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Place 1 or 2 sandwiches in the pan, cover, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the undersides are golden brown. Turn the sandwiches and press each one firmly with a spatula to flatten it slightly. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the undersides are well browned. Remove the lid, turn the sandwiches once more, and press firmly with the spatula once again. Cook for 1 minute, or until the cheese has melted completely into a quagmire of gooeyness.
  • 3. Remove from the pan and let cool for 5 minutes while you repeat with the remaining sandwiches. Cut each in—either on the diagonal or right down the center—and serve immediately. With plenty of napkins.
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