Warm, gooey cheese between crisp, buttery bread—aka grilled cheese—is the ultimate comfort food. This month, readers shared their favorites, including a sumptuous peppered bacon and fig jam combo, and a French knife-and-fork sandwich known as a croque monsieur. I love this recipe from Grilled Cheese Kitchen by Heidi Gibson, the winner of seven grilled cheese championships and co-owner of American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco. The Hawaiian is inspired by the classic pizza: a combination of gooey mozzarella, sweet-tart pineapple, savory ham and spicy tomato sauce. The sandwich “is one of our guilty pleasures,” Gibson writes. Aloha!
Hawaiian Grilled Cheese
4 slices fresh pineapple (about 1/4-inch thick), cored, or 4 slices canned pineapple rings, drained
6–8 slices ripe plum tomato (about 1/4-inch thick)
1 tablespoon butter, softened
4 slices Hawaiian bread (slightly sweet white bread) or artisan white bread
4 slices fontina cheese
4 ounces sliced ham
3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil.
2. Arrange the pineapple and tomato slices on the baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, or until the surfaces appear dry but not yet browned, turning the pieces over halfway through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
3. Heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.
4. Spread the butter on one side of each bread slice, dividing it evenly. Place two slices, buttered-side down, on a clean cutting board. Layer two slices of the fontina, half of the ham, three or four slices of roasted tomato, two rings of roasted pineapple, and half of the mozzarella on top of each. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Finish with the remaining slices of bread, buttered-side up.
5. Using a wide spatula, place both sandwiches in the pan, cover, and cook until the bottoms are nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook until the second sides are browned, the cheese is melted and the other ingredients are heated through, about 4 minutes longer.
6. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve immediately.
Makes 2 sandwiches.
Reprinted from Grilled Cheese Kitchen (Chronicle Books, 2016)