It’s hard to know where to start with this, as there are so many excellent variations on the standard cheese toastie. The ‘classic’ (just cheese and perhaps onion) is actually the hardest of all to get right. The best example of its kind is to be found at the Kappacasein stall in London’s Borough Market. There they use a combination of Montgomery’s Cheddar, Comte and Ogleshield, combined with garlic, red and white onions and leeks. It’s a masterpiece and a lesson in finding the right blend of cheeses for the perfect flavour, melt and – technical term coming up – goo.
‘Posh toasties’ have well and truly become a thing, then, and although I have fond, misty memories of subsisting on hot lava pockets fresh from the Breville in my student days, there comes a time to move on. Dedicated stalls are springing up all around town, and they’ve started adopting the American name for the sandwich: the ‘grilled cheese’, perhaps as a gesture to say ‘we now take this heating up of cheese business as seriously as you guys do.’
I was overwhelmed with ideas for this sandwich, so in the end I used what I could lay my hands on at the time. That is, after all, standard toastie practice. This recipe uses a mix of Montgomery’s cheddar and Comté cheeses, which together give an intense flavour. The topping is chestnut mushrooms cooked briefly with onions, garlic and white wine, and mixed with parsley. I added some spring onions for a bit of bite, and also because they looked sad in the fridge. This would be even nicer with wild mushrooms, if you’re feeling flash. On the bread front – sourdough only for the posh toastie, please.
The ideal way to cook this sandwich is, unsurprisingly, in a sandwich toaster, but if you don’t have one, it’s easy to cook it in a heavy-based pan – just weigh it down with something heavy on top (like another pan) and then flip it halfway through.
This will be enough mixture for one very large sandwich, or two smaller ones (so it depends on the size of your loaf).