This is not your granny's grilled cheese. This is a foodie's grilled cheese. The flavor and texture combinations of the rye, Muenster, avocado, and sprouts send the senses soaring. The recipe is based on a sandwich that was served at the Stockpot, a now-closed restaurant that was the town darling of Montclair, NJ for 30 years. —Dora Villarosa
sliced, thick rye, pumpernickel, or multi-grain bread
Preheat toaster oven or conventional oven to 350F.
Generously and evenly butter two thick slices of bread. Make sure the smear of butter covers the whole slice; this is how to achieve a crisp, golden, flavorful exterior. If your butter is unsalted, sprinkle a bit of salt over each buttered side.
Preheat a non-stick or cast iron pan on medium heat for 4-5 minutes. While the pan preheats, slice the avocado and the tomatoes, if using. Lay two pieces of bread on the hot pan, butter-side down. The butter should sizzle, but not too much -- you don't want your pan so hot that it burns your bread. Top each slice of bread with ¼ lb of Muenster cheese.
Lay down the other two slices of bread on top of the cheese, buttered side up, and press down lightly with a spatula. You don't want to flatten the sandwich completely, but a little pressure helps the cheese melt and the butter sear.
After a minute or so, begin to check the color on your bottom slices. Once it's beautifully browned, flip everything over, holding the sandwich together with your other hand to keep it from falling apart. Press down some more with your spatula, and cook until the bottom slices look like the top slices.
Once you're happy with the color of your crusts, finish your sandwich on a baking sheet in the oven. If you're making more than two, use the oven as a way to keep everything warm. Let your sandwiches bake for at least five minutes, or until their cheese is completely melted.
Add your extras. Now, it may seem sacrilegious to peel open a perfect-looking grilled cheese, but that’s what we’re going to do. Add the sliced avocado, sprouts, and tomato slices (if using), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and go to town.
Serve with sliced tomatoes and a simple arugula salad with Dijon vinaigrette.