I like to call this grilled cheese sandwich a grilled ploughman. I lived in England for a few years, and one of my favorite food memories is the ploughman’s lunch which is standard pub fare. Essentially a cheese platter or cheese board, it’s a rustic and hearty arrangement of slabs of sharp, aged cheese (often cheddar), a dollop of sweet and spicy chutney or pickle, smears of piquant mustard, and wedges of fresh fruit, such as apple, heaped on a platter with thick slices of country-style bread. The best part is that it’s DIY, ready to assemble and devour to your taste.
I used the ploughman’s lunch as inspiration for this grilled cheese sandwich, essentially layering all of the traditional ingredients into a double-fisted melty sandwich, oozing cheese and balanced with fresh greens, crisp fruit, and a homemade apple-chile chutney, similar to piccalli, which is the English version of Indian spiced pickles. Happy New Year!
Ploughman’s Grilled Cheese with Apple Chile Chutney
Makes one hefty sandwich
2 slices sourdough or ciabatta bread, 1/2-inch thick
Salted butter, softened
2 ounces sliced aged hard cheese, such as sharp Cheddar or Gouda
1/4 cup arugula or more as needed
2 tablespoons Apple Chile Chutney (recipe below)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, or to taste
Make the sandwich:
Butter one side of each bread slice. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add one bread slice to the skillet, butter-side down. Lay the cheese over the bread. Cover the pan and cook until the cheese is mostly melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Place the arugula over the cheese. Spoon the chutney over the arugula. Spread the mustard over the unbuttered side of the second bread slice. Place the bread, mustard-side down, over the sandwich. Using a spatula, carefully flip the sandwich and gently press down. Cover the skillet and cook until the cheese is thoroughly melted and the bread is golden brown, 2 to 3 more minutes. Transfer to a plate, cut in half, and serve.
Apple Chile Chutney
Add a mix of mild and hot chile peppers for flavor and heat. I used a red jalapeño and sweet Hungarian and Gypsy peppers in this batch. Makes about 2 cups.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion chopped
2 to 3 red chile peppers, depending on size and heat, stemmed and seeded, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons grated peeled ginger, with juices
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the chutney thickens, about 20 minutes. Cool completely, then transfer to a jar and refrigerate. The chutney will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.