Friday, March 18, 2011

Beer Bread Grilled Cheese - or, my marriage as an easy lunch

There are only a few things better than grilled cheese.
Grilled cheese on beer bread is one of those things.

This sandwich reminds me of my marriage. Not because it's homey (although yes, it is), or because it's cheesy (though certainly it is that), but because it's better than expected.

Everybody knows all about grilled cheese. I'd go so far as to say that every child in America, as long as they attended public school, feels that they have a solid understanding of how a grilled cheese sandwich works. It's bread, surrounding cheese, fried up in butter. Nothing too exotic here. Every family has their own version, of course, and there are countless personalizations - grainy mustard, sliced tomato, ham, rye bread. But essentially, it's just a grilled cheese. Maybe you adore it because it brings back warm memories of rainy afternoons and tomato soup, or maybe you shudder at the sight of it because it reminds you of Irma, your elementary school cafeteria lady with the unfortunate eyebrows. Whatever the emotions attached to the grilled cheese, you get it. Everybody gets it. It's a grilled cheese sandwich.

Everybody knows all about marriage, too. We each have our own pre-set ideas about how a marriage works, about what it takes to make one last and about why so many don't. Some of us believe that marriage is something comfortable and warm. Some see it as a trap, the quickest way to forget how to breathe. We enter adulthood knowing what marriage is, like we know so many things. And usually (sadly?) we go to our graves knowing all the things we think we know, because it's easier than learning something new. And usually (sadly.) we go to our marriages already knowing what it will look like, because it's easier than noticing that it doesn't.

My marriage is a surprise, continually. I always expected that when I met my person, I would decide quickly that I wanted to be with him forever. Instead, there was no decision at all, no choice but to continue on together. I assumed that he would be a firecracker like me, someone to match me in volume and bring out my colors. Instead, he smolders quietly, casting me in a much prettier glow than I can manage on my own. I imagined that we would spend more time laughing than fighting, but that the fights would be fierce. Instead, we argue daily, sometimes hourly, and our laughter is the fiercest thing about us. For someone who knows everything, this marriage deal is a bit of a shocker.

As is this sandwich.

 Beer Bread Grilled Cheese
This sandwich is much, much more than the sum of its parts. The tangy bread is the perfect top note for a good sharp cheddar, and the prosciutto brings everything to a whole new level. Serve it with hot apple cider and a good dill pickle.

Beer Bread
From Honest Fare
This bread is amazing. I ate a quarter of the loaf standing at the counter when I was supposed to be doing the dishes. Also, it tastes like a yeast bread (thanks, beer) but cooks like a quick bread. Awesome.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 4 Tablespoons white sugar
  • One can or bottle of beer (cheaper is better, here, we think)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
~ Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a loaf pan
~Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Whisk together well.
~Pour in beer and mix with your hands until you have a stiff dough - then stop! Don't over mix her.
~Dump into the loaf pan and brush the top with melted butter.
~Bake for 35-45 minutes. Use the toothpick test

For sandwiches:
~Melt some butter in a skillet
~Between thick slices of beer bread, stack good sharp cheddar and a slice or two of prosciutto.
~Smear on some grainy mustard
 ~Grill until appropriately awesome


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