As I do when I don’t have an idea for a sandwich, I walk around Whole Foods looking for inspiration for the week’s sandwich. However, this time, it was not Whole Foods that inspired me, but me remembering an old idea I never tried. Way back, I had thought of creating a mashed potato grilled cheese but I never truly thought the idea through. Instead, I ended up creating the Orange Basil Sweet Potato Grilled Cheese. A good sandwich for sure, but not a true mashed potato grilled cheese. Now was my chance to truly investigate what a mashed potato grilled cheese would taste like. Yes, other people have made a grilled cheese based on baked potato toppings, but never actual mashed potatoes in a grilled cheese. I asked Facebook what they thought and I was on my way to creating something truly unique.
Garlic and green onion mashed potato grilled cheese
Homemade Garlic Green Onion Mashed Potatoes
Great Lakes Sharp Cheddar
Wisconsin Dofino Creamy Havarti
Cheese #1: Great Lakes sharp cheddar
When thinking about mashed potatoes and getting inspiration from a loaded baked potato, cheddar was the first cheese that I thought of. Luckily, my local market had Great Lakes Sharp Cheddar on sale. After tasting said cheese, I realized I could have gone with a sharper cheddar, which is what I enjoy, but the lack of bite did not affect the outcome of the sandwich. If you like a more mild cheddar, this cheese would be perfect for you.
Cheese #2: Dofino creamy havarti
As was the case with the Nachos & Cheese Super Bowl Grilled Cheese, I felt that one cheese was not enough. This Wisconsin havarti was also on sale, so why not have something a bit sharp and a bit creamy mixed together? This cheese is smooth and buttery and a perfect contrast to the cheddar. The harvarti would be great on a grilled cheese just by itself and worked perfectly in this sandwich.
I kept going back and forth on what to include in the mashed potatoes themselves and what to include in the sandwich. I had some general idea and then continued to think about the it ingredient that would send the sandwich over the top.
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to include garlic (I used roasted garlic) and chives or green onions directly in the mashed potatoes. (Keep in mind, chives and green onions are similar ingredients and used interchangeably, but they are not exactly the same.) I went with chopped green onions for this sandwich. I used approximately two stalks for two sandwiches and some left over mashed potatoes. Both the garlic and green onions added a great kick (not spicy kick though) that resonated throughout the dish and was the reason the sandwich was so successful.
Also included in the mashed potatoes was rosemary, salt, pepper, butter and milk. (Normally I am unable to include any milk products in my mashed potatoes because they are normally eaten with meat and I do not mix meat/milk. Kosher, remember? This was a nice change.) Finally, I included just a couple of slices of each cheese to give it a bit more flavor.
This is how the potatoes looked after all mashed up and creamy. I tasted these multiple times, adding more salt, pepper, garlic and green onion as I went. Since taste is personal, make sure to taste as you go along and season accordingly.
Now what did I decide was the it ingredient? The special ingredient that would send the sandwich over the top? I was wracking my brain trying to think when it hit me: broccoli. Broccoli is often served on loaded baked potatoes so why not on this sandwich? We steamed the broccoli for a bit and then sautéed them in a pan with some green onions, butter, salt and pepper.
There was some serious debate regarding what type of bread to choose for this sandwich: Multigrain? Sourdough? Roasted Garlic? These all were good choices but we were afraid that the bread would overpower the interior ingredients. Therefore, we went with a Country/Italian white bread.
When I told my great aunt that we were making a grilled cheese with mashed potatoes, she said, “That sounds good but we normally like french fries on the side of ours.” She thought that the mashed potatoes were on the side not in the sandwich. Once I clarified, she proceeded to tell me that that didn’t sound good and that she is never coming to my restaurant.
This sandwich was all about pushing the envelope of what a grilled cheese can and should be. Who says mashed potatoes have to be on the side? Why can’t they be inside? After taking the first bite of this sandwich, I thought, “This is weird.” The smooth texture of the potatoes mixed with the crunchy texture of the bread was something I had not experienced before. It was something new and unexpected. However, as I continued to eat, I realized that although the texture was startling at first, the grilled cheese itself was fantastic. The garlic green onion mashed potatoes had the perfect kick, while the broccoli added nice texture. Overall, this was a fantastic sandwich that I may just make again this evening.
P.S. I read the concern that this grilled cheese sandwich was “heavy” but I never once thought that as I took each bite. Common sense would leave you to believe that, what with the potatoes and bread, but it wasn’t. The mashed potatoes were more creamy than anything, adding a great contrast to the crunchy bread.
Shane Kearns blogs about grilled cheese at Grilled Shane.
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