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Not long ago, a friend of mine mentioned that she cooked a grilled cheese sandwich in the microwave. She said this with pride in her resourcefulness and ingenuity. I, on the other hand, was horrified. It’s like watching someone cook a good cut of steak until it’s a dried up hockey puck of a mess. It is a crime against humanity, and it needs to STOP!
Friends don’t let friends eat bad food. These are words that I live by. Food is life. Food is happiness. Food can bring people together, and a good meal can reverse the worst of moods. If you love your ingredients, and give them respect, they will love you back. It was time for an intervention. I could not idly stand by and let this woman continue on this path of darkness. I had to show her the light.
With this goal in mind, I set out to school her on the art of the grilled cheese sandwich. It couldn’t just be ANY grilled cheese sandwich. It had to be the Mack Daddy of ALL grilled cheese sandwiches. That is when I thought back to that amazing short rib panini that I ate earlier this year, and thought to try using that as the inspiration for my sandwich. Typing in “short rib grilled cheese” in a search engine nabbed me this recipe for a Short Rib and Arugula Grilled Cheese sandwich from Bon Appetit, which I used as the foundation for my sandwich.
Be warned: short rib is not a cheap cut of meat. I paid almost $6.00 per pound for the stuff. You’re welcome to try substituting, if you’d like. Otherwise, the first stage is to make the short rib. You can actually make this a day or two in advance, to cut down on your prep time the day you want to make your sandwiches.
Brown your short ribs on either side in a heavy-bottomed pot. You’ll need to do this in multiple batches, so that each piece can have full contact with the bottom of the pan and get a nice brown. Remove the short ribs from the pot and set them aside while you saute your vegetables. Just toss some chopped onion, celery, and carrots into the same pot. As they start to cook, they will start to release some moisture. Use that moisture to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of your pot. That stuff is full of flavor, so don’t let it just sit down there. Afterwards, add in some stock (I had vegetable stock on hand, but beef would be better), herbs, and wine. Bring this to a boil, then add the short ribs back in. Cover, reduce the heat, and let it go for about 3 hours. Just give it a stir periodically to move the meat around and get it cooked more evenly. When they’re done, they should look like they’re starting to fall apart a little bit.
Remove the short ribs from the heat and let them cool for about a half hour. Then, you shred your beef.
If you did this correctly, the meat should come cleanly off the bones. I was able to pull the meat apart with two forks. At this point, you can put the shredded meat in an airtight container for later use and discard the cooked vegetables (I save the liquid for future use, though). Otherwise, it’s sandwich time!
If you have any leftover garlic, I highly recommend added some minced garlic to your softened butter. Just throw a teaspoon or so into the butter, then stir until it’s all mixed together. You’ll thank me later.
Butter one side of two slices of bread (I used “Hearty White”), then flip the bread slices over so that the buttered sides are facing down. Add sliced cheese (Colby Jack here), arugula, and warm short rib to one side, then top with the other slice of bread. Place it in your preheated skillet and brown on each side until the cheese is melted. That’s it. The recipe called for caramelized onions, but I left those out. Not a fan.
Then, reward yourself with the cheesy, melty goodness that is this Short Rib and Arugula Grilled Cheese sandwich. You can cut your sandwich on a diagonal for a pretty presentation. Or, just shove it in your face whole. I won’t judge.
My heart truly breaks for vegetarians and the lactose-intolerant right now. I can honestly say after eating this sandwich that, if I never marry, I would be okay with that. No man could possibly ever understand my heart the way that this sandwich did. Give this sandwich a try at least once, and Wonder Bread with Kraft singles will never cross your mind again.
I hope that, aside from my friend, someone out there benefits from this post and finds grilled cheese enlightenment. Your life will be better for it.
Short Rib and Arugula Grilled Cheese Sandwich
For the Short Rib
- 2.5 lbs of short rib (cut into 3 inch pieces)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 ½ cups chopped celery
- 1 ½ cups chopped carrots
- 1 ½ cups chopped onion
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
- ¼ cup beef or vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons dry Sherry
- ½ cup plus 2 tbsp red wine
- salt and pepper to taste
To assemble the sandwiches
- Salted butter, softened
- 8 or 10 slices of the bread of your choice
- 8 or 10 slices of the cheese of your choice (a melting cheese, like Colby Jack or Fontina, is recommended)
- 2 cups of arugula
Make the short rib…
Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in large wide pot over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook beef until browned, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet or bowl. Add the celery, carrots, and onion to the pot and sauté until beginning to soften and brown, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add wine, stock, Sherry, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme sprig; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Return the ribs to the pot, distributing evenly. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 2 ½-3 hours, or until meat is tender and pulls away easily from the bone. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Remove ribs from pot, discard vegetables and herbs, the shred the meat. Trim any excess fat.
Make the sandwiches…
Heat a griddle or skillet on medium heat.
On a large plate or tray/pan, butter 2 bread slices, then set them butter side down. Top each bread slice with 1 slice of cheese, then add about ½ arugula to the top of one of the slices. Add about ½ cup of short rib on top of the arugula, then place the other slice of bread on top.
Place the sandwich on your preheated griddle or skillet and cook until browned and the cheese has melted on each side (about 3 minutes). Serve the Short Rib and Arugula Grilled Cheese sandwich immediately.