Lunchbreak: Jack Bishop, America’s Test Kitchen, makes grown-up grilled cheese sandwiches and vegetarian chili

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Jack Bishop

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Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Cheddar and Shallot

7 ounces aged cheddar cheese, cut into 24 equal pieces, room temperature
2 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed
2 Tablespoons dry white wine or vermouth
4 teaspoons minced shallot
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
8 slices hearty white sandwich bread

Process cheddar, Brie, and wine in food processor until smooth paste is formed, 20 to 30 seconds. Add shallot and pulse to combine, 3 to 5 pulses. Combine butter and mustard in small bowl. Working on parchment paper–lined counter, spread mustard butter evenly over 1 side of slices of bread. Flip 4 slices of bread over and spread cheese mixture evenly over slices. Top with remaining 4 slices of bread, buttered sides up. Preheat 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. (Droplets of water should just sizzle when flicked onto pan.) Place 2 sandwiches in skillet; reduce heat to medium-low; and cook until both sides are crispy and golden brown, 6 to 9 minutes per side, moving sandwiches to ensure even browning. Remove sandwiches from skillet and let stand for 2 minutes before serving. Repeat with remaining 2 sandwiches.
To quickly bring the cheddar to room temperature, microwave the pieces until warm, about 30 seconds. The first two sandwiches can be held in a 200-degree oven on a wire rack set in a baking sheet.

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Asiago and Dates
Substitute Asiago for cheddar, finely chopped pitted dates for shallot, and oatmeal sandwich bread for white sandwich bread.

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Comté and Cornichon
Substitute Comté for cheddar, minced cornichon for shallot, and rye sandwich bread for white sandwich bread.

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Gruyère and Chives
Substitute Gruyère for cheddar, chives for shallot, and rye sandwich bread for white sandwich bread.

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Robiola and Chipotle
Substitute Robiola for cheddar, 1/4 teaspoon minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce for shallot, and oatmeal sandwich bread for white sandwich bread.

Look for a cheddar aged for about one year (avoid cheddar aged for longer; it won’t melt well). The same thing holds true for other cheeses used in the variations. Feel free to use your favorite flavorful cheese, making sure to avoid anything aged for more than a year.

A little Brie is the key to using a more potent aged cheese. If you prefer, an equal amount of Monterey Jack can serve the same purpose. Like Brie, this young cheese melts very well.

Hearty sandwich bread (with large thick slices) is a must. We like Arnold Country Classics. Other sliced breads (rye, oatmeal) work well, too. Avoid rustic loaves—all those air pockets provide exit routes for the filling. When making grilled cheese, you want bread with a uniform crumb.

Best Vegetarian Chili
1 pound (2 1/2 cups) dried beans, picked over and rinsed
2 dried ancho chiles
2 dried New Mexican chiles
1/2 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, chopped coarse
4 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
1–2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed and chopped coarse
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 pounds onions, chopped fine
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
2/3 cup medium-grind bulgur
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Bring 4 quarts water, beans, and 3 Tablespoons salt to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour. Drain beans and rinse well. Wipe out pot. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Arrange anchos and New Mexican chiles on rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and puffed, about 8 minutes. Transfer to plate and let cool, about 5 minutes. Stem and seed anchos and New Mexican chiles. Working in batches, grind mushrooms, oregano, and toasted chiles in spice grinder or with mortar and pestle until finely ground. Process walnuts in food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl. Process drained tomatoes, tomato paste, jalapeño(s), soy sauce, and garlic in food processor until tomatoes are finely chopped, about 45 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Heat oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add cumin and ground chile mixture*; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rinsed beans and 7 cups water and bring to boil. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook for 45 minutes. Remove pot from oven. Stir in bulgur, ground walnuts, tomato mixture, and reserved tomato juice. Cover pot and return to oven. Cook until beans are fully tender, about 2 hours. Remove pot from oven, stir chili well, and let stand, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve. (Chili can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
*We prefer to make our own chile powder from whole dried chiles, but jarred chili powder can be substituted. If using jarred chili powder, grind the shiitakes and oregano and add them to the pot with 1/4 cup of chili powder.