Kimchi Grilled Cheese + Judging the Great Midwest Grilled Cheese Contest

by on October 23, 2013

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Earlier this month, at a test kitchen in a quiet office park on the outskirts of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I sat at a table and tasted of upwards of 30 different grilled cheese sandwiches over the course of four hours. I was one of four judges for the Great Midwest “I Love Grilled Cheese” Recipe Contest in which cooks from all over the country had submitted their best savory, spicy or sweet recipes using Great Midwest cheeses. Read on to find out what I look for in grilled cheese and for my Kimchi Grilled Cheese recipe!

Chefs preparing the entriesTwo very busy chefs prepared each of the finalists’ recipes – one by one, sandwiches emerged from the kitchen to be judged and photographed. The ones I liked the most were:

  • Simple: Coco Chanel said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” I’d say the same holds true for preparing food – sometimes more is just more. I don’t mind if there are three ingredients or thirteen, as long as those ingredients are all working in harmony toward an overall straightforward taste experience. (Sounds like I’m overanalyzing, but after 30 tastes in a row your preferences become clear!)
  • Balanced: Cheese is rich – sandwiches that included acidic and/or spicy ingredients which helped cut the richness tended to emerge among my favorites. Examples of such ingredients include pickles, horseradish, watercress, radishes and so on.
  • Non-soggy: This often goes back to what I said about keeping things simple. It’s really easy to get carried away with a lot of ingredients that you know will taste amazing together BUT the weight and moisture level of it all just might saturate your bread. Sogginess can often be mitigated by 1) minimizing the use of wet ingredients (e.g., remove the seeds and pulp from tomatoes), 2) positioning wetter ingredients toward the middle of the sandwich and creating a bread “barrier” with cheese or 3) choosing denser breads (e.g., baguette or ciabatta) that can accommodate moisture better than lighter breads.

Sandwich entries

One of the contest sandwiches I liked the most was the Bibimbap Grilled Cheese Sandwich (above-right), largely because of its use of kimchi (aka, Korean fermented cabbage). It’s one of those ingredients I mentioned above that cut through the richness and pair rather well with certain cheeses, such as cheddar. I first made Kimchi Grilled Cheese Panini last year, and this bibimbap sandwich reminded me to share the recipe with you. If you’re ready for a fabulous flavor ride, give these panini a try (see the recipe below).

The winners of the “I Love Grilled Cheese” contest will be announced this week on the Great Midwest Facebook page and you can check out all of the finalists’ recipes on the Great Midwest website and Pinterest page.

Kimchi Grilled Cheese Panini ...get the recipe at

Thanks to Great Midwest Cheese for the opportunity to take part in their grilled cheese contest and for sponsoring today’s post!

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

>Ready to buy a panini press? Check out my Panini Press Buying Guide for the features to look for.

>Want more panini recipes? See my Recipe Index for a list of all recipes on Panini Happy.

>Traveling to a new city soon? Browse Panini Happy’s Great American Sandwich Guide to find the best sandwiches across the country!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nutmeg Nanny October 23, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Oh wow, I ‘d love to try this kimchi grilled cheese! Sounds awesome 🙂
Nutmeg Nanny´s last blog post ..Catching Up with Nutmeg Nanny {Episode 1}


2 Mary N October 24, 2013 at 11:09 am

I agree about keeping things simple. Sometime I would add too much and then saturate my bread! Thank you for more great info!


3 Denise October 25, 2013 at 5:34 pm

A friend of mine told me about your blog and also “Cooking With Mr. C.” on Facebook. (also a blog) I just “Liked” his Facebook page and just came to see your blog. I’m so happy that people are sharing blogs. Denise


4 Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective October 29, 2013 at 6:38 am

Sandwich looks delicious, Kathy!
Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective´s last blog post ..Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies


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