Once upon a time, I lived in England. One of my favorite food memories from that experience is the ploughman's lunch, which is classic pub fare consisting of generous slabs of cheese served on a platter with bread, fruit, chutney and pickles. It's rustic and hearty, and, in my opinion, a perfect combination: sharp aged cheese, a smear of spiced fruity chutney, perhaps a dab of strong mustard, and wedges of crisp 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 the traditional ingredients into a double-fisted melty sandwich, oozing with cheese and balanced with fresh greens, fruit and a homemade chutney, similar to piccalilli, which is the English version of Indian spiced pickles. While you can purchase prepared chutney, it's very simple to make and is a nice condiment to have on hand for cheese, charcuterie or grilled meat.
Ploughman's Toasted Cheese Sandwich
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Yield: makes 1 hefty sandwich
2 slices sourdough or ciabatta bread, cut 1/2-inch thick
Salted butter, softened
2 ounces coarsely grated aged hard cheese, such as sharp cheddar or Gruyere
Red onion slices
Thinly sliced apple, such as Granny Smith or Fuji
Baby kale leaves or arugula
2 tablespoons Apple Chili Chutney (see recipe below) or piccalilli
Butter one side of each bread slice. Heat a skillet over medium.
Add 1 bread slice to the skillet, butter-side down. Mound the cheese evenly over the bread. Cover the pan and cook until the cheese is mostly melted, 2 to 3 minutes.
Place a layer of onions over the cheese, then top with apple slices and kale leaves. Spread 1 to 2 spoonfuls of chutney over the kale, but not entirely to the edges. Place the second bread slice over the chutney, butter-side up. 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 and cut in half. Eat immediately.
Apple Chili Chutney
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: makes about 2 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 to 3 red chili peppers, 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 light brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh 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.
CAPTIONS AND CREDITS