There are dishes that benefit from being done on the cheap, and cheese toasties are one of them. I don’t want to get into too much sourdough chat
here because I’ll bore myself, and I’ll bore you. Sourdough bread has its place – fresh, warm, and with a farmy butter in a smartish restaurant, say –
but when it comes to cheese toasties, sliced white is unbeatable.
Simply, it is a case of structural integrity: sourdough offers too crusty a crust and too chewy a crumb. Cheese toasties are supposed to be a thing of simple beauty and minimal effort.
Still incredulous? I think the cheaper bread lets the cheese do the talking. I could call the bread “mere vehicle” but that would be rudimentary. It’s more about the floppy and welcoming nature of sliced white; the fact it bows to the dairy, like a happy farmer greeting their herd of grazing cows, but is supportive enough to hold fast as the melting commences and the fat begins to bronze the starch.
In the winter months, I’ve been keeping the fillings basic, too. This is because I myself am basic. Cheddar, gruyère if I have it, lashings of mustard and maybe some thinly sliced cornichons. That’s it – a generous slathering of mayonnaise on the outside of the bread (Warburtons Toastie, if you must know) and it’s time to compress. The Breville might be tired, but so am I. I should like four oozy triangles of melty daintiness and do not think for one moment that I won’t dip each one in ketchup.
While I maintain the bread must be tame, the fillings don’t need to be. It’s really a case of mood. Sometimes, bring the ’nduja, the posher cheeses, the sweet additions. This is what’s about to happen.
Stevie Parle owns Pastaio, a hugely accessible restaurant in Soho, London,
where bowls of freshly made pasta start at £8 a pop, and glasses of wine might cost only a fiver. I recommend going if you haven’t already.
Here, Parle has combined soft ’nduja with mozzarella, and brings honey into the equation for a dose of pizazz. It’s a solid dish, simple enough to do in moments but hoisted enough so as to not be boring.
’NDUJA, MOZZARELLA AND HONEY TOASTED SANDWICH
FOR ONE SANDWICH
30ml olive oil
2 slices white tin loaf
Evenly spread the ’nduja across one slice of bread. Cut the mozzarella into pieces and layer on top of the ’nduja.
Drizzle the honey over this and then complete the sandwich by placing the second slice of bread on top.
Warm the oil and butter in a pan on medium heat until the butter starts foaming, then place the sandwich in the pan. Flip the sandwich over when
the bread starts to brown, frying the other side until both are evenly golden
Transfer to a plate and slice in half before serving.