These days, chefs around the country are revving up the mighty grilled cheese to create even more decadent versions. Kris Wessel, chef and owner at Miami’s Red Light, put grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu almost as a nod to the restaurant’s past. “Red Light was originally a lunch counter and served grilled cheese,” he says. “We do anything from lobster and tomato with ‘stinky cheese’ to seared foie gras with mushrooms, pear jam and fontina.” He changes it up often but two regular features are his applewood-smoked bacon with fontina and the “Bratty Kid,” which is white bread (a thickly cut, finely textured variety) and (white cheddar) cheese. While it may be a nod to grilled cheese for kids, he says “Adults order it all the time.”
Expert Tips from Chef Wessel
- “Grill” it open faced, then press it closed to serve. This guarantees the fillings are good and hot and melting. Butter the bread, place it buttered side down on a baking tray—this will crisp up the outside while the inside is heating up.
- Finish the sandwich with salt or fresh herbs at the last minute. The salt lends a texture and brightness to the sandwich and fresh herbs warm up just enough to enhance the first bite of grilled cheese.
- Use the best bread for the filling. Wessel enhances his foie gras grilled cheese with a 7-grain loaf and his lobster grilled cheese with a mellower white bread, such as a good sour dough.
- Add more comfort and pair it with a warm bowl of soup—Wessel likes to serve the lobster grilled cheese with a bowl of lobster bisque—and dipping is encouraged.
(Cooked According to Red Light Little River method: Makes 1 sandwich)
- 2 slices sourdough bread
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3 pieces thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon, cooked to crisp
- 1 ounce soft goat cheese
- 2 slices tomato
- Sea salt
- Heat oven to 425. Spread 1 side of each slice of bread with butter. Place butter side-down on a baking sheet. Top 1 slice of bread with bacon, the other with cheddar. Place in oven and bake until bacon is hot and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
- Remove sandwich from oven and top with tomato. Press closed quickly and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve immediately.
Red Light, 7700 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 305/757-7773
City Diner, 3400 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, 561/659-6776