The secret to making the best grilled cheese sandwich you’ve ever had

The Westin Kierland's showstopping Green Chile Pork Grilled Cheese.

The Brittlebrush Bar & Grill at the Westin Kierland makes a showstopping elevated grilled cheese.

Jessica Marksbury

When it comes to comfort food, there are few dishes that can top a well-made grilled cheese. You may have read our primer on this standout sandwich, but there’s more to be said. Really, there’s more to be shared — specifically, the details behind an elevated grilled cheese that’s senior editor, Jessica Marksbury, has boldly declared to be “one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had.”

The sandwich in question is the Green Chile Pork Grilled Cheese that’s served at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa’s Brittlebush Bar & Grill. According to the resort’s Chef de Cuisine Thomas Lanoue, the sandwich was inspired by the chef de partie’s family recipe for green chili, which was reconstituted as a sauce to accompany a mezcal-braised pork butt that’s accented by menonita cheese — a Mexican style cheddar — and served between two slices of locally sourced sourdough bread.

Because this inventive, crave-worthy grilled cheese is based loosely on a tightly guarded family recipe, Chef Lanoue wasn’t allowed to divulge all of the specifics. Instead, he shared with us in broad terms how to make the sandwich, including a general guide to creating each of its components. And so, without further ado, here’s what you need to know.

How to make the best grilled cheese sandwich you’ve ever had

1. Start with a boneless, skinless pork butt, rubbed with olive oil and generously seasoned with salt and pepper. Then, over medium heat, sear the pork on all sides until nicely caramelized. Transfer to a roasting pan and set aside.

2. Roast, skin, and de-seed fresh poblano, jalapeno, and hatch green chili peppers, then add to the roasting pan with the pork butt.

3. In a medium bowl, toss whole garlic cloves, red and yellow onions (roughly chopped), scallions, and tomatoes in olive oil, then spread those onto a baking sheet and roast under a broiler until fairly blistered and soft. When appropriately charred, toss those ingredients into the roasting pan.

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4. Also add to the pan fresh cilantro, oregano, thyme, and enough chicken stock to cover three-quarters of the pork butt, then add a splash of mezcal to impart some smokiness.

5. Cover with foil and slowly braise the meat at 300 degrees for about six hours.

6. When finished, remove the meat from the braising liquid and shred it. Then, pour the braising liquid into a blender and puree until smooth.

To build the sandwich, first butter two pieces of sourdough bread with a rosemary compound butter, then place on a griddle (or a non-stick frying pan) and add menonita cheese. As the cheese is melting, heat some olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, then sear some of the shredded pork until well browned. Season with salt and pepper and then mix in a portion of the green chili sauce. Finally, add the pork mixture to one piece of the bread, then top with the other piece to complete the sandwich. Serve with a small dish of extra sauce for dipping.

If you want to experiment with elevated grilled cheese sandwiches of your own, Chef Lanoue acknowledges that there’s no shortage of options at your disposable. “It can be as simple as fresh vegetables and fruit with distinctive tart or sweet flavors,” he says, pointing to sliced tomatoes, Granny Smith apples, figs, or caramelized onions. He also says that chutneys and jams can introduce a pleasant sweetness, while deli meats add a “salty, meaty texture,” and a good pickle — with its acidity and brininess — can cut through the fattiness of the cheese.

“As a good rule of thumb, if it’s on a charcuterie board,” he adds, “most likely it will taste amazing between two pieces of bread.”

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