Homemade Pepperjack Grilled Cheese

I’m going to tell you a dirty little secret: I love junk food. And so do all the other ‘foodie’ people I hang around. I’ve seen some of the best chefs I know house entire boxes Cap’n Crunch and 9 out of 10 Bedford mongers agree: Queso is the best cheese-based dish in the world. Fondue who? We also all agree that pepperjack cheese is AWESOME. You will never hear me complain about or turn my nose up at a quesadilla with some Cabot brand pepperjack and pickled jalapeno. My love of this decidedly un-fancy coagulated dairy-product knows no bounds: stuff is gooood.

My policy when it comes to the over-processed foods I love used to be much stricter: I didn’t indulge at all. For years I banned sugar cereal, instant or microwaved anything, ‘cheese’ product, and all the other junk that America’s strange food science has invented from my diet. I still stick to my guns on somethings (like scary trans fat and factory-farmed meat) but I’ve slackened up on others. I believe that moderation is always the best policy. When I’ve completely banned soda from my diet, I tend to crave it more frequently, making it even more difficult to quit. However, cutting back drastically on the sugary drinks, curing most of my cravings with soda water, and indulging in the occasional root beer float or rum-and-coke works out much better for my mental attitude.

I’ve also developed an obsession that plenty of junk-food-addicts-turned-gourmet-chefs seem to also have: fancying up garbage. (see: here, here, and here) I’ve made plenty of healthier green bean casseroles, my own potato chips, and always have a stash of flavored simple syrups on hand for DIY sodas. So when the overwhelming urge for some spicy, melty pepperjack took over me, but the grocery store varieties had too many unpronounceable ingredients, I decided to come up with my own alternative.

Using my favorite melting cheese of all-time, Springbrook Farm’s Reading Raclette, and lots of finely chopped flavor-enhancers, I mixed up my own pepperjack to melt onto a sandwich that was part grilled cheese, part quesadilla, and all delicious. The avocado mellows the heat from the pepper and is the perfect creamy-cool foil to the bubbling cheese. It only takes a few minutes more prep-time than if you were to use pre-packaged pepperjack, so what are you waiting for?

*Addendum: As soon as I posted this recipe, I clicked on over to Facebook to post the link and found out, via the geniuses over at Grilled Cheese Social that is is National Grilled Cheese Month! Woohoo! Live it up with plenty of delicious pepperjack sammies, y’all!

Homemade Pepperjack Grilled Cheese
makes one sandwich

1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/4 red onion, minced
1/4 small bell pepper, minced
1 scallion, white and light green parts only, sliced
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used raclette, but a simple melting cheddar would also work)
1/2 an avocado
2 slices white bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and separated

In a small bowl, combine all vegetables and cheese. Fluff with a fork until combined. Spread half of the avocado onto your first slice of bread, mashing with a spoon to cover entire slice evenly. Spread one tablespoon softened butter onto other side of bread (this can be messy) and place, butter-side down, in a skillet set over medium heat. Place cheese mixture on bread and smoosh down gently. Spread remaining avocado onto other slice of bread, and butter the other side. Place bread, avocado-side down, on top of cheese. Cook about three-five minutes or until bread is golden and crispy. Carefully flip sandwich and top with a sandwich press (I use my cast iron skillet in lieu of a press, another dirty little secret). Continue cooking until bread is golden and crispy and cheese is melted. Let rest a few minutes before cutting in half and devouring.