Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Today I'm on my way to one of my absolute favorite places: Walt Disney World! I'm particularly excited because for the first time I will be staying at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, which has ranked very high on my wish list for years.

I plan on sharing several posts upon my return, discussing the resort as well as all of the amazing food I try during my brief visit to "The Happiest Place on Earth." Stay tuned!

In the meantime, in honor of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, I've decided to share a recipe for Hawaiian Grilled Cheese. It's from an excellent cookbook I recently reviewed, entitled Grilled Cheese Kitchen.

The inspiration for this sandwich derives from Hawaiian pizza—"gooey mozzarella, sweet-tart pineapple, savory ham, and spicy tomato sauce."

Although the tomatoes seem a little off-putting at first, they really do make sense in the context of Hawaiian pizza, in terms of the pizza sauce. They add a bit more acidity and sweetness to the sandwich, whereas the tart/sweet pineapple really is the star, along with the salty ham. Baking the sliced pineapple and tomato helps reduce some of the wetness, and yields for a perfectly balanced juicy but not soggy sandwich.

I couldn't find Hawaiian sandwich bread at my market (only the small slider-sized King's Hawaiian Rolls), and in the future would plan on baking my own Hawaiian bread. For this endeavor, I opted to use sliced French-style white bread sourced from a local bakery via Whole Foods. It's a bit crustier than a standard white sandwich bread, but it also boasts a lot more flavor, and a great hearty texture.

I substituted another great melting cheese, Havarti, for the Fontina specified in the recipe. Honestly, either would be fantastic here, alongside the mild but super gooey fresh mozzarella.

This Hawaiian grilled cheese is pretty phenomenal. If you love Hawaiian flavors, this sandwich is definitely for you! It has way more character than your standard grilled cheese, and it's considerably easy to make.

I can't wait to share all of my exciting experiences from Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, and of course the rest of Walt Disney World. Please check back in the coming weeks for my series of posts discussing all the fun and food from my trip!

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese
Serves 2
(From Grilled Cheese Kitchen)

4 slices fresh pineapple (about 1/4 in [6 mm] thick), cored, or 1/2 of a small can of pineapple rings in juice, drained
6 to 8 slices ripe plum tomato (about 1/4 in [6 mm] thick) (I used 2 plum tomatoes)
1 Tbsp salted butter, at room temperature
4 slices Hawaiian bread (slightly sweet white bread) or artisan white bread (I used French white bread)
4 slices (85 g) fontina cheese (I used havarti)
4 oz (115 g) sliced ham
3 oz (85 g) fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Arrange the pineapple and tomato slices on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, or until the surfaces appear dry but not yet browned, turning the pieces over halfway through. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.

Spread the butter on one side of each bread slice, dividing it evenly. Place two slices, buttered-side down, on a clean cutting board. Layer two slices of the fontina, half of the ham, three or four slices of roasted tomato, two rings of roasted pineapple, and half of the mozzarella on top of each. Sprinkle with the red pepper flakes (if using). Finish with the remaining slices of bread, buttered-side up.

Using a wide spatula, place both sandwiches in the pan, cover, and cook until the bottoms are nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook until the second sides are browned, the cheese is melted, and the other ingredients are heated through, about 4 minutes longer.

Cut the sandwiches in half, if desired, and serve immediately.


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