Friday, April 3, 2009

Hot Wing(less) Grilled Cheese Sandwich

So yesterday there was sort of this "perfect storm" of events that led to the creation of this ridiculously over-the-top hella good grilled cheese sandwich. Here's the back story - stick with me as I guide you through my cheese-saturated state of mind:
  • As I was reading my digital newspaper in the morning, there was an article in the SF Chronicle titled "Ten Iconic California Cheeses," which of course set me a-droolin'.
  • With cheese on the brain, I then stumbled head-on into a Facebook posting from Sunset Magazine that read: "Sunset needs your great grilled cheese recipe!"
  • That got me thinking about the last grilled cheese sandwich I had (months ago!) at one of Napa's best restaurants, BarbersQ, where the simple cheddar-on-sourdough sandwich comes accompanied by the restaurant's irresistable barbeque sauce for dunking (if you are in the know to ask, that is!).
  • And finally, when I got home from my long day, Randall announces (independent of my earlier cheesy encounters, mind you) that he's been craving a grilled cheese and is going to whip one up for dinner and would I like one?
Are you kidding me?! At that point, I just gave in and figured that fighting the obvious was pointless, and set about to make a grilled cheese like no other.

So with the BarbersQ sandwich and the iconic California cheeses providing the inspiration, the thought occured to me that all of the ingredients for hot wings (yes - the very same we all suck down with cold beers at bars and Hooters restaurants across this great land) would make an excellent, unique grilled cheese. The flavors make for an awesome combination: the meatiness of the chicken; the tangy, spicy, hot pepper marinade; and the creamy, cool blue cheese dipping sauce. There's a reason that hot wings are so popular - and it doesn't all have to do with beer consumption.

For this sandwich, I used two of the cheeses on the iconic list: Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk and Point Reyes Original Blue. The cheeses are layered with deli-thin slices of oven-roasted chicken breast between two slabs of four-cheese sourdough bread. The toasted sandwich is then served with a hot wing-style dipping sauce on the side. And it works! The sandwich really does evoke the flavors of hot wings, and goes down equally well with a beer!

I don't know yet if I'll submit this recipe to Sunset. But that wasn't really the point. I got the whole grilled cheese craving out of the way, and made up a killer new recipe along the way. Now I just have to deal with grilled cheese guilt!

It was SOOOO worth it.
Hot Wing(less) Grilled Cheese Sandwich

For the sandwich:
  • Sliced sourdough bread (I used a four-cheese variety)
  • Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk Cheese (or any triple-cream cheese)
  • Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese (or any blue cheese)
  • Roasted chicken breast, deli sliced
For the hot wing(less) dipping sauce:
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper or Tabasco sauce (or more, to taste and heat preference)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 shot Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of smoked paprika
  • Dash of salt
Pre-heat a grill pan or griddle to medium, melting a tablespoon of butter as the pan comes to temperature. Grill the sandwich until the cheese is melted, turning once, taking care to not let the bread get too toasted before the cheese is melted throughout. Serve with dipping sauce on the side.


  1. This sounds outstanding! I'm drooling already. You *should* enter this in to Sunset's competition.

  2. i'm making this right now on sourdough baguettes . . . after my husbands recent Hooter's foray, i've got a "hankering," shall we say.

  3. I'll let you know how awesome this is using my Tillamook Medium Cheddar. Yum!

  4. This sounds like a really tasty way to do a grilled cheese!