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Artisanal Grilled Cheese Sandwich

by Matt Armendariz
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sandwich-cover-550px-300x295I recently gave a studio tour to 40+ photograph students from Long Beach City College. For the past few years I’ve been a proud member of the advisory committee for the photography department, and it tickles me to no end to meet with the students.

This year’s group was particularly bright and full of insight, asking tons of valuable questions that ran the gamut from studio management and self-promotion to the logistics of photographing food. I made sure to have the books we’ve shot on the table for the students to see, and later someone asked me about The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches It was at this point that I admitted, like I always do when people ask, that I actually took one or more bites of every single sandwich from this book.

Yes, you read that right. I tasted every single sandwich. Because this was actually work, I’ve prepared a highly scientific flow chart to show you the studio’s exact process.

sandwich-flowchart-550px

Now, if you’re a sandwich lover it’s probably a dream job you’re thinking, and you’re correct. Susan Russo, my friend and the book’s author, covers every base when it comes to sandwiches, from the traditional to more off-the-way types of concoctions. While I would gladly repeat the entire process, I’m pretty happy enjoying one particular sandwich from the book. And I’ve been meaning to tell you about it for quite some time.

This recipe for Artisanal Grilled Cheese comes from Chef Mark Peel at Campanile, a place that’s been a favorite of mine (as well as a client!) for years. It’s not the easiest sandwich in terms of labor and ingredients, but trust me, it’s one of the most delicious. Then again, find a grilled cheese sandwich that’s NOT delicious and I’ll show you, well, I’m not sure what I’ll show you. I’m too busy eating sandwiches.

 

sandwichrussoarmendariz550pxArtisanal Grilled Cheese Sandwich
3 to 4 garlic cloves, sliced, plus 2 whole garlic cloves for rubbing bread
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
8 ounces cherry tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices sourdough bread
1 pound burrata cheese, cut into ¼-inch slices
4 ounces chickpeas
Salsa Verde (see recipe below)
4 slices prosciutto

Preheat over to 500˚F. In a skillet, add garlic and 1 cup cold water, cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Drain garlic and return to pan; 1 cup cold water, cover, and bring to a boil again; remove from heat. Drain water and pat garlic dry. In the same pan, heat oil over medium heat and fry 1 to 2 minutes, being careful not to burn it.

Spread cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Toss with chickpeas and salsa verde.

Grill or toast bread slices. Transfer to a serving plate and rub with garlic. Place 2 to 2 cheese slices on each bread slice. Top each with one-quarter of the tomato-chickpea mixture and 1 slice prosciutto. Sprinkle with fried garlic chips. Makes 4 open-faced sandwiches.

Salsa Verde
3 or 4 salt-packed anchovies, rinsed well, backbone removes, and finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon capers, rinsed and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh marjoram leaves
1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
fresh lemon juice, to taste

Using a mortar and pestle, pulverize anchovies, capers, garlic, and salt to a smooth paste. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, thinly chop ingredients and smash with the flat of a knife; you can also use a small food processor to puree them.

Add parsley, marjoram, and mint and continue pulverizing to break down herbs. Slowly add olive oil, stirring well to combine. Just before serving, season to taste with salt and lemon juice. Makes about 1 cup.

Matt Armendariz is a writer and photographer who lives in Los Angeles and chronicles his passion for food and travel on his blog MattBites. His latest book is "On a Stick!"

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