For many of us, toasties were one of the first things we learned to cook. And some of us still haven’t ventured beyond the well-trodden path of ham and cheese. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – the Bega, Don’s and Wonder White holy trinity has stood the test of time for a reason. But it’s worth diversifying your toastie portfolio, especially during these cold coronavirus months.
These five hefty, satisfying recipes each bring something special to the table, but they’re all guided by the core principle of a successful toasted sandwich: the more cheese, the better.
Estelle’s Kimchi and Wagyu Bolognaise Toastie
This toastie pays tribute to the great Australian tradition of using leftover spag bol sauce to create an exotic “European” jaffle. This rendition, by chef Scott Pickett of Melbourne’s Estelle, is more sophisticated, but still pushes all the right nostalgia buttons. The Wagyu mince lends plenty of richness to the sauce, but it’s balanced by the tangy-sour kick of the kimchi. It’s all finished with a heavy snowfall of parmesan. An unparalleled toastie for these unprecedented times.
Harper & Blohm’s Roaring Forties Grilled Cheese Toastie
Olivia Sutton knows cheese. She grew up on a dairy farm on King Island – Tassie’s cheese powerhouse. When she returned to boarding school after each break, she’d pack a three-kilo wheel of brie in her suitcase. Now she runs Harper & Blohm, one of Melbourne’s most beloved cheese shops. Safe to say she knows her away around a cheese toastie. This one is a rejig of the classic fig, walnut, rocket and blue cheese salad – just slotted in between two slices of sourdough.
Proof’s Mushroom, Truffle and Gruyere Toastie
Proof is one of the best places in Adelaide for a drink (and it will be once again when things get back to normal), but it’s also won plaudits for its excellent snacks. This toastie is a menu mainstay for a reason – smashable and indulgent, a real late-night number. Adding tartufata (truffle paste) to your toastie may seem a tad over-the-top in the coronavirus era, but it’s relatively easy to find (order it online from most good Italian provedores) and it punches well above its weight in the pantry. Add it to pastas, sauces and eggs whenever you need a bit of umami drama. Use it sparingly though – a little goes a long way.
The Stinking Bishop’s Peppercorn Cheese Toastie
Pecorino pepato is a hard, sharp cheese studded with peppercorns – it shines when paired with other strong flavours. In this toastie by Sydney cheese bar The Stinking Bishops, the acid of the oxheart tomatoes and the fattiness of the morcón (a Spanish variety of chorizo) do a great job of standing up to the pecorino. Add a glass of rosé or a crisp white, and you’ve got a sophisticated pairing for a dinner party (or a Zoom call, for now).
Maker & Monger’s Pimento Grilled Cheese
American cheese gets a bad rap. But cheesemonger Anthony Femia – a font of fromage knowledge, and owner of popular Melbourne cheese shop Maker & Monger – reckons the USA has some of the best artisan cheese around. So his toastie relies on pimento, a spread made from cheese, mayonnaise and peppers. It’s a staple of southern cuisine, loved for its balance of spice and cream. Pickled jalapenos and cayenne pepper bring a bit more heat to things, while the addition of cheddar and scamorza ensure maximum cheese-stringiness for that first glorious pull-apart.