A first for everything: grilled cheese with tomato gravy

By Jim Bailey

Grilled cheese with gravy? you ask. My answer: Because why not?  Serve this lightly breaded cheese that has been grilled until the outside is crisp and the inside is melting.

Serve with southern tomato gravy and this is a dish that is screaming decadence. Tomato gravy is also, classically, served on top of biscuits in the south, so try it either way!

1 pkg. (about 14 oz.) paneer cheese, see NOTE

Southern Fresh Tomato Gravy:

1 teaspoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon minced garlic in oil
2 cups small dice, fresh tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup milk, cream or creme fraiche
2 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
Salt and black pepper to taste



2 egg whites, beaten
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2-3 tablespoons oil

Slice cheese until at least 1 1/2-inches thick, and any circumference you desire; set aside in refrigerator.

Make gravy by melting butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and tomatoes, stirring until combined. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomatoes have broken down, about 4-5 minutes.

Add tomato paste, blending in until completely dissolved. Add milk, cheese, salt and black pepper to taste. Continue cooking and stirring for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.

For the egg wash and breading, whisk egg whites and hot sauce well in a bowl. In another bowl, combine cornmeal and black pepper.

In a large skillet (preferably nonstick), add the oil and place over medium high heat. When oil is hot, dip each slice of cheese into egg white mixture and then cornmeal mixture, coating both sides well. Carefully place into hot oil and continue until skillet is full.

Cook, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes, or until the underside is well browned. Flip over and brown the opposite side.

Immediately serve with hot southern fresh tomato gravy.

Makes about 6 servings

NOTE: Paneer cheese is found in many shapes and sizes. Simply cut it anyway you desire. Feta, bleu, cotija and firm, fresh Mozzarella would be top-notch substitutions.


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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at theyankeechef@aol.com.

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