Well hello, GRILLED CHEESE Crazy Cooking Challenge! What a fun adventure you have been!! When Tina of Mom's Crazy Cooking announced this month's Crazy Cooking Challenge topic - GRILLED CHEESE - I thought, "Hmmm, how much can we really do with grilled cheese?" Turns out ... a lot!
I've always pretty much just made your straight-up, regular ol' grilled cheese. I never really thought to change it up much, or thought there could be so many fabulous combinations. But, whew! ... I have recently been enlightened. This is one cooking adventure that will continue for me well beyond the monthly Challenge.
Now, this grilled cheese is not for the faint-of-heart ... It. Is. Spicy. The whole roasted jalapenos bring on the heat! (I did come up with a 'cheater' method, though, that takes out the pepper roasting step and tones the heat down a tad, if desired. I'll talk about that in just a bit.)
The original recipe calls for roasting jalapenos on the grill. Well, I didn't feel like going outside and firing up the grill. I know, I know ... it's not that hard. But still ... I just didn't feel like it. So I roasted mine right on the burner of my gas stove top. Yep, just set 'em right on the burner. It doesn't roast them quite as evenly as the grill, but it does work!
Once the peppers are good 'n charred, place them in a paper bag for a few minutes. This lets them steam in their own heat for a bit and makes the skins easier to remove.
Then remove them from the bag and gently peel off the charred skin. Now, it's recommended that one wear gloves for this step. I didn't have any gloves. So I improvised. With a piece of plastic wrap.
Hmm, I had a little jalapeno 'spillage' onto my hands ... which I discovered that evening when I removed my contact lenses. Can you say ouch? But this sandwich was totally worth it.
Your naked peppers will look about like this:
Split them open with a knife, and carefully remove the seeds and ribs. If you want extra heat, leave in a few seeds. But trust me, these puppies are spicy enough even without the seeds! (Though, I must admit, I did leave a few seeds in the peppers for my husband's grilled cheese.)
To assemble your sandwiches, spread some slices of crusty sourdough with a cream cheese-&-green onion mixture and layer on slices of Colby Jack and the roasted jalapenos.
Grill it up, slice it up, and then enjoy!
I absolutely loved the creaminess of the cream cheese melted up with the Colby Jack. Soooo delicious. Totally yummy deliciousness. Be forewarned - the jalapenos are spicy ... and I love spicy food. Still, I'll go with just one pepper on my sandwich going forward (instead of the two I'll put on my hubby's).
Now, I mentioned that I came up with a 'cheater' method for this sandwich. I loved the roasted jalapenos, but also wanted to see if I could come up with an alternative that skipped that step. I tried simply dicing up some fresh unroasted jalapeno ... but no deal. This didn't bring any heat, and just got lost in the cheese without adding much (if any) flavor.
Then I tried diced pickled jalapeno. Jackpot! I prepared the sandwich the same as the original, but sprinkled diced pickled jalapeno on top of the cream cheese layer instead of roasting up the fresh jalapenos. The flavor and heat were back! A perfect quick-method alternative.
Whichever method you choose, if you like jalapeno poppers - you'll love this grilled cheese sandwich. Oh, yes. Yes, you will.
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Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese
Source: Adapted from Simply Scratch Makes 3 sandwiches
6 large jalapeno peppers
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 green onions, chopped
Dash of black pepper
6 slices Colby Jack cheese
6 slices sourdough bread
1. Roast jalapenos on a pre-heated grill or burner of a gas stove top, turning to char all sides. Place the roasted jalapenos in a paper bag to steam. After about 10 minutes, remove from the bag and gently peel off the skin. (It is recommended that you wear gloves for this step.) Cut off the top of each pepper. Slice down one side of each pepper and carefully remove the seeds and ribs.
2. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, chopped green onion, and black pepper.
3. Butter one side of each of the bread slices. Flip over three slices of bread and spread the unbuttered side generously with the cream cheese mixture. Layer on the jalapenos and cheese slices; top with the remaining bread slices, butter side up.
4. Grill in a heated pan, coated with cooking spray or a bit of butter, until golden browned.
'CHEATER' METHOD: Omit roasted fresh jalapeno peppers. Replace with jarred pickled diced jalapenos. Sprinkle pickled jalapenos, to taste, on top of the cream cheese layer in each sandwich.