I'm a big fan of the grilled cheese sandwich. It's pretty much the perfect comfort food: Buttery, toasty bread plus gooey, melty cheese...yum. And I'm a grilled cheese purist, too—I generally won't add any toppings. No bacon, no tomato, no avocado. Just bread and cheese.
Then, awhile back, I read Ruth Reichl's piece on Gilt Taste about how adding a swipe of mayonnaise to the inside of a grilled cheese sandwich adds a delicious tang. And as she is about most food-related things, she was right. I was a mayo-on-grilled-cheese convert (it didn't hurt that I love mayonnaise).
I thought that was the pinnacle of grilled cheesiness until I saw Ina Garten making her version of a grilled cheese sandwich on Barefoot Contessa a few weeks ago. Ina takes Ruth's mayonnaise trick a few steps farther: She butters the outside of her bread, then mixes mayonnaise with Dijon mustard and grated Parmesan and slathers that on the inside of the bread. Atop that she places a mixture of grated Gruyere and extra-sharp cheddar, and then she slaps it all together, throws it in a hot pan and toasts it to perfection. (She also adds crispy, crumbled bacon, but I opted not to.) The result is grilled cheese nirvana. Seriously. The mayo-Dijon-Parmesan mixture is genius. Here's the recipe if you'd like to make it yourself.
Photo: Food Network.