A blog post about cheese toasties is not something you might expect to see on The Honest Project, usually home to recipes for salads and more salads. But here I am writing about the perfect cheese toastie. Let me explain.
I spent the first half of this morning in front of my laptop and the second half in town buying new books and attending to dog walks. I must have sensed the inclement weather to come as, on a last minute whim I picked up a loaf of sourdough bread on my way home. Just as I got in the door around mid way through lunch hour starving and with two mucky dogs to wash, the rain started to bucket down. Not just normal rain, this was cold and windy rain. I quickly washed the dogs and turned on the heat and by that stage, all I wanted was warmth, comfort and something that I haven't made myself in an absolute age.... a homemade cheese toastie. I think the idea came into my head as earlier this week I had suggested in my cheese board blog post to use leftover chutney from festive cheese plates for toasties. So my thinking went something like this; if I suggested it in writing, well then it would be rude not to try it out myself. So lunch was decided, a cheese toastie and a very satisfying lunch if ever there was one.
I strongly suspect that it's not just me that thinks about cheese toasties a little more often than usual at this time of year. Perhaps the reason is the abundance of cheese hanging around along with leftover chutneys. Add some delicious sourdough bread to the mix and get grilling for an oh-so-tasty lunch. Because I don't eat homemade cheese toasties a whole lot, when I do, they have to be really special. There are some essential elements that cannot be compromised on. Today's post is hardly a recipe; more a a run-down of those essentials.
It has to be sourdough and it must be perfectly sliced. Sliced too thin and there isn't enough bread; sliced too thick and the you will burn the bottom of the bread before the cheese inside has a chance to melt. I choose a brown sourdough which I picked up in CakeFace Pastry in Kilkenny - I'm pretty sure it's made by Seagull Bakery in Tramore - and I cut it in slices of around half an inch thick.
For me it has to be Irish Mature Cheddar. Today, I used 15 Fields Mature Cheddar, from Knockanore, County Waterford and a few slices of a red cheddar I had in the fridge, I'm not too sure which one as I had re-wrapped it previously. Either grate the cheddar or slice it very thinly and build it up in layers on your sandwich. Don't add thick slices of cheese or again, your bread will start to burn before your cheese melts.
Use Irish butter and don't be light-handed with it. Butter your bread, not your pan. In other words, butter your two slices of bread and turn them butter side down. Spread your chutney on top and add your cheese and then put the second slice on top. In other words, the buttered sides of the bread are on the outside of your sandwich, the side that touches the pan.
A chutney is key to add moisture and sweetness to your sandwich. Today I used the Simpy Better Fig and Apple Chutney that I had left over from my cheese board and it was so good. A chilly chutney also works great.
I use a griddle pan, but a regular pan will work too. Heat the pan before placing your sandwich in the middle. Allow to cook for a few minutes before checking the underside of the bread . Once it's golden brown, carefully flip your sandwich to toast the other side. Once the bread is golden brown on both sides and the cheese has melted, your toastie is done.
Eat while drinking a mug of pipping hot tea and hugging a hot water bottle for the ultimate cheese toastie experience.