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~Braaibroodjie: South African Grilled Cheese Sammie~

IMG_7364Grilled cheese sandwiches.  They've been embedded in our American food culture since the 1920's.  That's approximately when affordable sliced white bread and inexpensive processed American cheese hit the market. Because this hunger-satifying sandwich was inexpensive, easy to make (under a broiler, on a flat-top griddle, or, in a skillet), and, met our government's nutritional standards, our Armed Forces began serving thousands of them to servicemen stationed all over the globe.  Post WWII, the institutional food service industry (hospitals, prisons, school cafeterias, etc.) started pairing grilled cheese with tomato soup to provide the required Vitamin C component in order to call it a complete meal.  That said, pairing bread and cheese and grilling it (initially open-faced -- two-sided sandwiches came along later), over an open flame until the bread toasted and the cheese melted has been going on since Ancient Roman times.

In South Africa, "braaing" is the word for "grilling", and, grilling (over open coals) is South Africa's culinary passion.  Braaibroodjie, is a real tongue-twister to say.  Pronounced "bra-ee-bro-ee--kee", it's their iconic version of the grilled cheese sandwich, and, it can be prepared, before, during or after the "braai" (barbecue) -- as a sweet and savory start, accompaniment, or end to the feast. The five components are:  bread (white sandwich or sourdough), butter (softened or melted), any nice melting cheese, with cheddar being traditional (grated or sliced), thin-sliced fresh tomatoes, paper-thin sliced sweet onion, and, fruit chutney (homemade or high-quality store-bought).

For lovers of sweet & savory, the combination of cheese & chutney is: A brilliant match made in heaven!

IMG_7326For four sandwiches:

8  slices white sandwich bread, or, 4 large 1/2"-thick center-cut slices from a sourdough loaf (the largest slices), cut in half to make 8 total slices

4  ounces butter (1/2 stick/4 tablespoons/1 total tablespoon per sandwich)

1/2  cup fruit chutney, homemade or high-quality store-bought (2 total tablespoons per sandwich)

8  ounces grated melting cheese (2 cups/1/2 cup per sandwich) (Note:  I'm using brick cheese today.  It's perfect for these grilled cheese sandwiches.  To learn more about it, read my Cook's Note at the end of this post.)

1  cup very-thinly-sliced, "shaved" yellow or sweet onion

8 medium-large-sized thin slices of tomato (2 per sandwich), or, 16 small-sized thin-slices of tomato (4 per sandwich)

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing grill pan

I'm demonstrating making two sourdough sandwiches today.

IMG_7330 IMG_7332 IMG_7337 IMG_7339 IMG_7342 IMG_7348~Step 1.  To assemble two sandwiches, working on a sheet of parchment or wax paper, butter the tops of 4 bread slices (1 1/2 teaspoons each) then flip them over, buttered sides down, on the paper. Slather tops of all 4 slices with 1 tablespoon of chutney.  On two of the slices, place 1/2 cup of grated cheese.  Arrange 2-4 (medium-large or small) tomato slices atop the cheese, followed by a generous scattering of onions.  Flip the two unfilled slices of bread up and over the tops of the filled slices, placing them, buttered sides up, to form two sandwiches. Using your fingertips, gently press down on the top of each sandwich.

IMG_7350 IMG_7353~ Step 2.  To grill two sandwiches, lightly-spray a grill pan with no-stick cooking spray and place pan over medium- medium-high heat -- give it a moment or two to heat up.  Add the sandwiches to the hot pan and cook until golden on both sides and cheese is melted, turning only once, about 4 minutes per side.  Remove from heat.

No embellishments necessary.  Serve and eat ASAP!     

IMG_7359Braaibroodjie:  South African Grilled Cheese Sammie:  Recipe yields 4 grilled cheese sandwiches.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; butter spreader; grill pan; spatula

IMG_7188Cook's Note:  "What is brick cheese", you ask?  Brick cheese is white to pale yellow in color and can range from sweet, buttery and mildly-salty when young, to strong, sharp and savory when aged. It melts great, which means it can be used in a wide variety of dishes.  It goes great with crackers and fruit -- it loves chutney.  It is indeed the kind of cheese you want in any type of grilled-cheese sandwich!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017) 


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