This recipe is part of Crispianity: a column devoted to all foods crispy and crunchy, two of the most underappreciated attributes of a great dish. Author Adeena Sussman is a food writer and recipe developer, pairing here with her photographer friend Evan Sung. Sussman’s most recent cookbook, coauthored with Lee Brian Schrager, is Fried and True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides.
Would you think less of me if you knew my favorite after-school snack as a kid was a hunk of cheddar cheese, heated in the toaster oven until it spread and bubbled, the edges and underside hardened into a lacy sheet I’d eat like a chewy-crispy cracker? I hope not, because it’s still perched at the top of my personal munchie pyramid, unlikely to have its position usurped anytime soon. These days I house that cheddar between two slices of buttered bread and dress it up with sweet, slowly caramelized onions and a layer of kimchi that cuts the richness of the cheese and delivers a necessary punch of heat. The secret is to use just a bit more cheddar than you ordinarily would. That way, when it oozes out into the skillet, it makes quick work of becoming the apotheosis of crisp — and the grown-up version of my childhood obsession.
Learn the technique in the crispy, oozy video below:
- 2 (1/2-inch) thick slices rustic white bread, country loaf or sourdough
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/4 cup caramelized onions
- 1/3 cup jarred kimchi, drained, squeezed of excess juice and chopped
- 3-4 ounces sliced cheddar cheese
- Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.
- Brush one side of each bread slice liberally with butter and arrange buttered-side down.
- Combine onions and kimchi and arrange evenly over one slice of bread.
- Top with cheese, breaking pieces to fit the sandwich and allowing cheese to stick out beyond the edges of the bread.
- Top with the other slice of buttered bread, buttered-side up.
- Place in skillet, cover with additional skillet and grill until underside is golden and cheese is bubbly and browned on edges, 3-4 minutes.
- Flip and grill other side, 3-4 minutes.
- Serve hot and crispy.
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