Ruth Reichl has been publicly aligning herself with grilled cheese for a long time. And we really should have paid attention sooner. Her grilled cheese is genius, and also completely out of control. Adapted slightly from My Kitchen Year (Random House, 2015). —Genius Recipes
Any combination of shallot, leek, scallions, onion (any color)
Gather a group of shallot, leek, scallions, and onion—as many members of the allium family as you have on hand—and chop them finely into a small heap. Add a minced clove of garlic. Grate a few generous handfuls of the best cheddar you can afford. (Montgomery is particularly appealing), set a little aside, and gently combine the rest with the onion mixture.
Butter one side of thickly sliced bread and heap as much of the mixture as possible between the slices (butter facing in). Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the outside of the bread (this will keep it from scorching on the griddle). Press the reserved grated cheese to the outside of the bread, where it will create a wonderfully crisp and shaggy crust, giving your sandwich an entirely new dimension. (For less mess, it helps to apply the mayonnaise and cheese first on one side only, lay that side on the griddle, then quickly do the remaining top side while the bottom is sizzling.)
Fry on a heated nonstick griddle or in a nonstick skillet about 4 minutes a side, until the cheese is softly melted.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Creative Director Kristen Miglore.