This Is the Surprise Ingredient That Makes Chef Gabrielle Hamilton's Grilled Cheese SO Good

This Is the Surprise Ingredient That Makes Chef Gabrielle Hamilton's Grilled Cheese SO Good

The white stuff is the right stuff.

By Salma Abdelnour

Gabrielle Hamilton's menu at Prune, which earned her a James Beard Award for Best Chef New York City, is known for its always-thrilling mix of the simple and the unexpected, from the chowder-soaked toast to the grilled ribeye with parsley-shallot butter, to one of the best spaghetti alla carbonaras of all time. And her gorgeous purple-bound cookbook, also titled Prune and full of her hand-scribbled notes, is a major score for fans who don't live anywhere near her restaurant but want to eat like they do. And while chances are you won't be attempting the pigeon with parsley vinaigrette, or the calf's brain fritto misto, at home anytime soon, you can easily pull off Prune signatures like the fresh radishes with sweet butter and kosher salt (always on the menu), or the canned sardines with Triscuits, Dijon mustard and cornichons (yes, canned sardines).

One classic you'll definitely want to start with? Her impeccable and super-easy three-ingredient grilled cheese. You can probably guess what two of the three ingredients are: bread, yes (a rustic-style loaf cut into 1/2-inch thick slices), and cheese (shredded extra-sharp cheddar). And the third ingredient? Nope, not butter. And not bacon, not mustard, not arugula, and not any of the trimmings chefs and other cheese-sandwich innovators like to put on theirs. It's mayo. That's it.

"This is the greatest cooking medium of all time for a grilled cheese sandwich," Hamilton tells Food 52, since mayo browns more evenly and won't stick to the pan or burn as quickly as butter does. Not to mention the extra flavor a slather of the creamy white stuff adds to your sandwich. You simply spread one side of each piece of bread with the mayo and turn the bread mayo-side out, then put the shredded cheese in between the two slices. Cook the sandwiches in a frying pan for about five minutes per side, and keep them warm in a 300-degree oven if you're making multiples. 

For the full recipe, check out Food 52, or head over to Chowhound if you want to pair the grilled cheese with Hamilton's awesome minestrone.

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