The esteemed trophy.
The seed for our Annual Grilled Smackdown was planted in 2011 with a modest inner-office Grilled Cheese Contest. Flash forward a few years and several dozen and gooey, golden delicious sandwiches later to our Second Annual Horny Toad Grilled Cheese Smackdown Invitational. Like many great ideas, this one took on a life of its own. Now it’s a community event with an official panel of judges, fierce competition and a slew of grilled cheese recipes that are too good not to share.
2013′s reigning champs, Team C’est Cheese, complete in team uniform.
We’d like to thank C’est Cheese (who happens to be last year’s overall winner), Isla Vista Screen Printing, Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, all three Horny Toad teams and the UCSB Bren School for bringing their A games. Everyone made a valuable contribution to Grilled Cheese history this year.
Judges get down to business, keeping clean palates with Juice Ranch alkaline water
(thanks Erin and Scott!).
We’d also like to thank Cheryl and Michael from the Burger Bus, Liz from Citrix, Andrew from Genuine Bread Co., our very own Neil, Matt from the Independent, Scott and Erin from the Juice Ranch and Brian from Telegraph Brewing Company for serving on our esteemed panel of judges.
The 2014 champs, our very own Nina and Ian!
And last but not least, we send a hearty high five to this year’s overall Grilled Cheese Smackdown winners, Ian and Nina of Horny Toad Clothing! Thanks for making us proud guys.
We hope you enjoy the recipes. Happy National Grilled Cheese Month!
The champion “Truffle Shuffle”: a taste and presentation combo-punch of a sandwich.
Nina and Ian’s Truffle Shuffle – The “Best Overall” Award
For the Sandwich:
1 cup grated Uniekaas Truffle Gouda
½ cup grated Cypress Grove Midnight Moon
1 cup grated Trader Joe’s Goat’s Milk Gouda
¼ cup grated Parmesan
¼ cup crumbled Point Reyes Original Blue
1 cup chopped Truffled Marcona Almonds
1 cup chopped, cooked bacon
good sourdough bread, sliced
8 oz. button mushrooms
1 Tbs minced garlic
black truffle oil
1 lb. chopped kale
salt and pepper
package of white mushroms
1 Tbs minced garlic
First sauté the mushrooms:
- Slice mushrooms while heating 2 TB of butter in a pan
- Sauté garlic for about a minute in the butter
- Throw in mushrooms on high heat to sear
· Lower the heat and sauté until cooked through.
Combine all of the cheeses in a large bowl and mix well. Layer some of the cheese mix on a slice of the Sourdough. Place some of the chopped almonds, sautéed mushrooms, and bacon, then layer with more cheese – don’t be shy. Put the sandwich on a griddle or Panini press and cook through to melt the cheese. Serve with a healthy side of salty kale chips and enjoy!
For the Kale Chips:
truffle flavored olive oil from Trader Joe’s
one bag of chopped Kale from Trader Joe’s
salt and pepper
- Preheat Oven to 400 degrees
- Mix the kale in a bowl with 4-5 TB of truffle oil – add more if all leaves are not coated.
- Sprinkle with pepper and mix again.
- Spread evenly on baking sheet
- Sprinkle with salt
- Bake for 10 minutes until crispy
- If they are crispy after 10 minutes, turn off oven heat and leave kale chips in there until they crisp up and dry out a bit.
Pizza meets grilled cheese. It’s love.
C’est Cheese’s The Pizzaiolo Grilled Cheese – “The Most Artisanal” Award
They melted a signature blend of three different cheeses — Scharfe Maxx, Mozzarella and Canadian Cheddar — on slices of Italian loaf bread with Calabrese salami (Italian style pepperoni), roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, fresh basil. Yum!
A little sweet, a little savory, a lot of yum.
Courtney & Zack’s The Jesus M. Cristo : A heavenly, waffled spin on the Monte Cristo – The “So Close” Award
1 loaf thick brioche bread /challah (12 slices)
1/2 stick melted butter
1/2 cup milk or half n half
2 Tbs dijon
6 slices turkey
6 slices ham
6 Tbs pepper jelly
2 cups arugula
12 oz Gruyere
1 t vanilla
powdered sugar (for finishing)
maple syrup (for finishing)
- Mix eggs, half n half (or milk) and vanilla in a wide bowl
- Brush waffle maker with butter before each sandwich
- Assemble sandwich – slice of challah, pepper jelly (to stick to the cheese), then cheese, then turkey, then arugula (sandwiched between the meats to keep it fresh), then ham, then bit of mustard, then another slice of challah
- Dunk fully assembled sandwich in egg batter on both sides, careful to hold all pieces together
- Press in waffle maker until crispy and gooey
- Top with maple syrup drizzle and powdered sugar
Makes 6 sandwiches
Yes, those are Doritos. Yes, it’s completely genius.
Kimberly & Rick’s Bacon Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese – “The Super Bowl Special” Award
2 slices of sourdough bread
2 jalapeños, roasted
1 slice pepper jack cheese
1 slice sharp cheddar cheese
1 Tbs. cream cheese, softened
1 Tbs butter, softened
1 Tbs crushed Cool Ranch Doritos
1 slice bacon
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- Slice jalapeños lengthwise and place skin side up under a broiler on high for 8-14 minutes, until skins are black and bubbling. Then place in a Ziploc bag and let steam for 20 minutes.
- For best results, let butter and cheeses warm to room temperature before beginning.
- Butter one side of each slice of bread, and then spread cream cheese on the other for each slice. Place pepper jack cheese on one slice of bread. Then layer jalapeños, bacon, Doritos and red pepper flakes. Top with slice of cheddar and the other slice of bread.
- Grill in Panini press, or on griddle or pan until cheese is melted.
Makes one sandwich.
Bren school demonstrating the classic and always-delicious beer and grilled cheese pairing.
Bren School at UCSB’s The Drunken Fig – “The Most Spirited” Award
olive bread from Our Daily Bread
Manchengo and drunken goat cheeses
bourbon caramelized onions
farmer’s market arugula
-Layer ingredients and grill to gooey perfection!
The Isla Vista Screen Printing guys sent their extra mac n’ cheese around
the room for a crowd pleasing encore.
Isla Vista Screenprinting’s The Hawaiian – “The Sweetest” Award
white cheddar mac and cheese infused with tantalizing pineapple, jalepenos,and smoked applewood bacon
A fine layer of apricot stilton crumbles
A spread of blackberry jam.
- Melt. Enjoy!
Bici Centro’s entry put a cheese-y spin on “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Bici Centro’s Pickles and Swiss – “The Cheese on Bread” Award
-Butter, grill, and serve with dill pickles.