Grilled kale and cheese sandwiches

I’m writing this down for myself to remember. It was an experiment worth repeating. I used black kale aka Tuscan kale aka Italian kale for this. Here is the process for making two sandwiches, which we ate as a side dish to a steak that we shared.

Grilled kale and cheese sandwiches, and a bowl of steak

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Make the kale filling: heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add a bit of butter, one minced garlic clove, and one sliced shallot. Cook, stirring a bit until the garlic and onions begin to soften. Add in one cup of chopped kale – when prepping, remove the thickest part of the ribs from the kale leaves, and chop it into smallish pieces. Stir around to coat the kale in oil, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid, and let cook until the kale is wilted to your taste, stirring occasionally. If you don’t want any crispy bits (I do!) then add a touch of water to keep it from getting dry. When it’s ready, assemble the sandwiches.

Grate 85-100g of cheese appropriate for grilled cheese sandwiches. Aged cheddar is always a good idea. I can imagine a smoked mozzarella being good here. I used Höhlenkäse (literally: “cave cheese”) which I think might be my new favourite cheese for grilled cheese.

When assembling the sandwiches, layer the kale between a top and bottom layer of cheese so that when the cheese melts, it holds everything together.

Here is the controversial part: You may have noticed that I don’t mention buttering the bread. I have decided that buttering the bread is a waste of time. You can get a flawless crispy buttery effect thusly:

  1. Get the pan hot at medium-high heat (6 on my dial, which goes to 9).
  2. Place two slices of cold butter in the pan, and swirl them as they melt so the puddle each makes is a larger area than one sandwich.
  3. Place the assembled sandwiches in the butter puddles.
  4. Immediately nudge the sandwiches in an arc around the pan 90 degrees and then back, so that any liquid butter in the pan gets pushed up and into the edges of the sandwiches.
  5. Cover the pan! This might seem unusual but trust me. This makes the cheese melt faster.
  6. Let the sandwiches cook, untouched, for the right amount of time. Sorry I don’t have an amount of time here … I do this part by feel. Maybe it’s 3 minutes? You can check by lifting an edge of one to see how toasted the underside looks.
  7. Take the lid off, and lift the sandwiches out of the pan with a spatula onto a paper towel on a cutting board. The paper towel prevents condensation and therefore keeps them crisp.
  8. Put two more pats of butter in the pan, swirling them as they melt as before.
  9. Put the sandwiches back in, flipped over, and nudge them through the butter as before.
  10. Let them finish cooking. Lift them out to the paper towel.
  11. Cut and serve. I found that I needed two knives for this: a seared one to get through the top slice of bread, and sharp straight one to push down sharply through the kale and lower slice of bread. The straight knife would have crushed the sandwich, and sawing back and forth through the kale was making a mess.

ps: Maybe I should make an instructional video. It’s way easier to show than explain.

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