I love grilled cheese, but I tend to put it in the category of foods you should only eat if you make them yourself. It’s not something I think of when I’m going out to eat. When I see a grilled cheese on a menu I assume it’s going to be something floppy and sad; two slices of everyday white bread with the thinnest neon orange Kraft Single wedged in the middle. Worthy of lunch at home, but not a restaurant meal!
But there is this restaurant on Main Street in Newark, Delaware that makes the best grilled cheese! It’s called Homegrown, and it’s an eclectic place with a relaxed atmosphere. They focus on scratch made food for everyone from vegans to carnivores. I used to go there all the time with friends while I was in grad school, and my go-to dish was their grilled cheese.
This thing is a monster! They use thick homemade bread slathered in basil oil. Then they stuff five different kinds of cheese into the middle with a couple thick slices of tomato. It’s perfectly grilled and crispy; so crispy that when you hold it up, the sandwich doesn’t sag. It truly is a whole meal, and the poster child for the perfect restaurant grilled cheese. I don’t get back down to Homegrown as often as I’d like, so I wanted to pay homage on national grilled cheese day.
I start with sourdough bread sliced ¾ of an inch thick. I love it because it’s hearty, and can hold up to being stuffed with ingredients. You can use any bread you like, but make sure it’s thick and sturdy. This is not the time for plain old white bread.
Once you have the perfect bread it’s time to slather both sides. The inside of the bread gets a thick layer of pesto. Any pesto will work, so pick your favorite. The outside of the bread gets mayo. Sounds weird, but bear with me. I grew up using butter to crisp my grilled cheese, but Zac grew up with a friend who’s Mom used mayo instead. I think I did a double take the first time he told me. It sounded gross, but I tried it and now I’m converted! It creates this deliciously crispy crust that is better than using butter. It caramelizes on the outside of the bread, and gives the grilled cheese some umami; just that little something extra you know you love, but can’t necessarily place. It’s also a lot easier to spread on your bread.
Now comes the cheese. Five kinds of cheese! They might seem odd together at first, but they all play their respective part and melt together beautifully.
- Dubliner cheese is similar to cheddar, but more complex in flavor. It’s a little nutty, sharp, and slightly sweet. You’ll typically find it from Kerrygold, but you can use cheddar in a pinch.
- Monterey jack is creamy and mild. It melts incredibly well, so expect some great cheese strings when you bite into the sandwich.
- Asiago is bold and nutty. It really complements the Dubliner cheese. Try to find one that is aged 5 months or less; they tend to be more mild and less pungent.
- Provolone is sharp and tangy. It’s also a great melting cheese. It’s flavor stands out among the other cheeses, but doesn’t over power.
- Feta lends a sour, salty punch of flavor. Personally, I look for feta made with cow’s milk. A goat milk feta will have too much funk and distinct flavor for this grilled cheese.
I really like to get my cheese from Trader Joe’s. If you’ve never been to their cheese case, I highly recommend it! They have a huge variety, and it’s very affordable.
As you are layering on the cheese, tuck in some thick slices of roma tomatoes. I like to use romas because they have less seeds than the larger tomatoes. You won’t have to worry about deseeding or extra juice in your grilled cheese. The acid from the tomatoes also helps to balance the richness from the cheese.
Give this grilled cheese a try, and let me know how you like it in the comments!
Gooey 5 cheese grilled cheese sandwich slathered with pesto, and sliced tomato.
- 1 cup grated Dubliner cheese or cheddar cheese
- 1 cup grated monterey jack cheese
- ¾ cup grated asiago cheese
- ⅓ cup feta cheese
- 4 slices provolone cheese
- 4 tbsp pesto
- 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 4 tbsp mayo
- 1½ tbsp butter, softened
- 8 ¾ inch thick slices of sourdough bread
- Preheat a large saute pan or flat griddle on low heat.
- Combine all cheese, except provolone in a medium bowl. Mix to combine.
- On one side of each slice of bread, spread ½ tbsp of pesto.
- On the other side of each slice of bread, spread ½ tbsp of mayo. *See note*
- Melt the butter in the pan or griddle, making sure to spread it evenly.
- Add 4 slices of bread to the pan or griddle, mayo side down.
- On top of each slice of bread, layer on one slice of provolone, ⅛ of the cheese mixture, 2-3 slices of tomato, and another ⅛ of the cheese mixture.
- Take the remaining 4 slices of bread, and put them on top of the 4 slices in the pan or griddle with the mayo side facing up.
- Press lightly or place a heavy bottom pan on top of the sandwiches. *See note*
- Turn the heat up to medium, and cook for 5-7 minutes.
- When the bottom of the grilled cheese is golden brown, flip it over.
- Cook for an additional 4-6 minutes. Serve when golden brown.
- Once you have both sides slathered, I recommend standing the bread on its side. If you bread is thick enough, it should stand upright.
- Putting a heavy bottomed pan on top of the sandwiches helps to press them down. Be careful not to press too hard, otherwise the filling with come out.
- Category: Dinner, Lunch
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: grilled cheese, dubliner cheese, cheddar cheese, feta, provolone, asiago, monterey jack, 5 cheese, gooey, pesto, mayo, roma tomatoes, sandwich