Buffalo Bills no more!
Saturday was the Grilled Cheese Smack Talk Showdown at Bartlett’s Farm.
The first two years of this competition, I deservedly finished in second place. This resulted in a year’s worth of smack talk, focus groups, recipe trials, and more than a few superfluous calories.
This year’s competition was amazing. It has grown to the point of needing to move to their greenhouse. We would not have fit in the Hayloft, where it was held the past two years.
There were three categories of competition, all of which had unique funny names that I cannot remember but essentially boiled down to Plain & Simple (bread, butter, cheese only), Fancy-Enthusiast, and Fancy-Professional.
The results are in.
Renee Bistany and I teamed up to form Team Smack and won the Plain & Simple category, on the strength of an amazing James Beard bread recipe that Renee baked. The bread is tender but also has an open crumb. So as the sandwich cooks and the cheese melts the bread absorbs the cheese. This brings a new element to a grilled cheese sandwich because it isn’t two pieces of bread containing melted cheese, instead it is a single thick slice of bread suffused with cheese.
James Beard’s Sour-Cream Bread
1 package active dry yeast
3 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup warm water (100F to 115F)
2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Combine the yeast, sugar, and water, and allow to proof for 5 minutes.
Put the sour cream, salt, and soda in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture and combine.
Add 4 cups of the flour, cup by cup, to make a very wet, sticky dough, beating hard with a wooden spoon after each addition. Scrape out onto a lightly floured board.
Using a baker’s scraper or a spackling knife, lift the flour and the dough, and fold the dough over. Turn it clockwise slightly and repeat the lifting and folding process until the dough is less sticky and can be worked with your hands. Add only enough flour to prevent sticking. (This entire kneading should take about 10 minutes, possibly longer if you are inexperienced). Shape the dough into a ball, place in a buttered bowl, and turn to coat it with the butter. Cover with plastic and let sit in a warm spot to double in bulk.
Punch the dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead for a minute, then divide into two equal pieces. Butter two 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf tins. Shape the dough into loaves and fit into the tins. Cover loosely and let rise again until doubled. Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on top and bottom. Cool thoroughly before slicing.
In the final Fancy-Professional level of the competition, I went head to head against Renee (last year’s winner), Chef Neil Hudson (last year’s Pro winner), Barbara Gookin (local foodie and previous winner), amongst others.
And, with a complete lack of humility, THIS was the winning sandwich…
The Sweet Cheesus!
From the bottom up, what you see is…
Cinnabon Cinnamon Bread, cut in to rounds and grilled in homemade butter
Homemade Dulce de Leche
Homemade Mascarpone cheese, blended with vanilla bean
Homemade blackberry jam (Thanks Grandpa Weikle!)
Topped with drizzles of dulce de leche thinned with cognac and blackberry coulis and a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt flakes (thanks Natasha!)
Served with whipped cream, fresh blackberries and garnished with a mint leaf
Here are the recipe cards I gave out that show how to simply make these wonderful ingredients:
It was a blast to make, and I am very happy to have a ton of leftover ingredients that are going to have to be used up in the week!
Renee’s Sandwich deserves mentioning here, because it was an amazing bite as well and, as seen above, won the People’s Choice Award!
Un sandwich de queso cocido
Freshly baked, homemade cheddar and onion bread (it was still warm from the oven even!)
…filled with farm made chorizo sausage
cheddar, manchego, and mexican melting cheese
spread with a compound butter made from homemade butter, salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder
And served with a Mario Batali inspired cream of tomatillo dipping sauce, made from tomatillos, Serrano chili peppers, garlic, lime, cilantro, chicken broth, and Mexican crema.