The cheese that started the experiments with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – Carr Valley’s Menage. If you missed them, here are Grilled Cheese #1 and Grilled Cheese #2. Enjoying the Menage before dinner one evening, the complex, grassy flavors combined with the creamy texture inspired this thought – What would this be like as a grilled cheese? But it’s such a unique cheese, we had to create the right complement to showcase it. Thus, Grilled Cheese Sandwich #3.
The Cheese: Carr Valley Menage
Here is how Menage is described by the folks at Carr Valley – “This mixed-milk beauty is aged for intense flavor and a drier texture. It’s dipped in a lovely wax as vibrant and green as Wisconsin’s summertime pastures. This cheese won a 1st Place ribbon at the 2009 World Cheese Competition, a Bronze Medal at the 2011 World Cheese Awards, and another 1st Place ribbon at the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair.” It tickles me that they list a 1st place at Wisconsin State Fair, as if it had the same weight as the 1st place at the World Cheese Competition. The sheep milk here really comes through in the flavor, similar to another Carr Valley favorite, Mobay.
The Accompaniment: Bacon Bourbon Black Currant Jelly
Black currants re-hydrated in a bacon-washed bourbon and blended with a black currant jelly. This is a good thing. I have two small jars additional. I’m happy about that.
The Bread: Black Rye
Rubschlager’s Rye-Ola out of Chicago, IL, is a traditional black rye, meaning the black color comes from rye and molasses. This is not a rye with any wheat flour at all and no colorants to make it look dark. It’s just rye, blackstrap molasses, salt, yeast, malted barley and a preservative. That’s it. It is dark and dry with a naturally roasted flavor. It was the perfect canvas for the artistry of the cheese to shine though. Here’s a simple idea: toast these in a low heat oven until crisp and break into artsy looking shapes and serve as a replacement for $8 artisan crackers. Simple ingredients, forgotten product. Worth rediscovering.
I love seeing the malted barley in the bread and sprinkled on the outer crust. As this sandwich toasted, the black currant jelly melted into one side and began to caramelize. The Menage melted into the other side, all creamy and herbaceous. This was delightful and worthy of more variations on the theme. Enjoy with a big, rich stout like Tyranena’s Down n’ Dirty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.