This is the ultimate gourmet grilled cheese sandwich. It’s stuffed with chopped fresh tarragon, Bourbon caramelized shallots and melted, extra-sharp white cheddar cheese. The cheese is mixed with ground yellow mustard seeds for extra punch.
Grilled cheese is a classic for good reason. Melted cheese sandwiched between buttery and crispy fried bread simply can’t go wrong. But grilled cheese gets even better when you add a touch of gourmet!
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter – you need about half of the butter to caramelize the shallots and the other half to spread on the outside of the sandwiches. I always recommend unsalted butter simply because you can never know how much salt is in salted butter; the amounts differ from brand to brand.
- 3 shallots – peel the shallots and slice them more or less evenly so they caramelize evenly.
- 1 tablespoon Bourbon – arguably the most important ingredient in this recipe, Bourbon takes the caramelized shallots from pedestrian to spectacular by adding its signature oak and caramel flavors.
- 6 slices sourdough – thick slices of a dark and rustic loaf work best in this recipe.
- 6 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar cheese – I recommend to get a block of cheddar and grate it yourself, rather than buying already grated cheese, which is usually coated with corn starch to keep it from clumping.
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds – yellow mustard seed is one of the best spices for grilled cheese, in my opinion. The seeds have a sharpness that intensifies the sharp flavor of the cheddar without adding the acidity that actual mustard would add. If you start with whole seeds, you need to grind them in a mortar with a pestle into a powder. Or, you can simply buy already ground seeds.
- 30 fresh tarragon leaves – the flavor of tarragon works absolutely great with the Bourbon and the cheddar in this recipe.
Kitchen tools needed:
- cheese grater
- measuring spoon
- knife and cutting board
- non-stick frying pan or cast iron pan
- mixing bowl
- a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder are optional – if you don’t have them, just use already ground mustard seeds
How to make the sandwich:
How to caramelize shallots:
- In a pan, melt the butter.
- Add the sliced shallots to the butter and cook over medium heat until browned (this will take about 15 minutes).
Add the bourbon:
- Turn the heat off, add the Bourbon to the pan, turn the heat back on and cook for another minute, then set aside.
Prepare the bread:
- Generously spread butter onto one side of each slice of bread.
How to assemble the sandwiches:
- Turn the bread slices upside down and top the non-buttered side with tarragon.
- Mix the cheese and the mustard seeds together in a bowl and add on top of the tarragon.
- Add the shallots onto the cheese.
- Top with the remaining slices of buttered bread, keeping the buttered side on the outside.
Fry the sandwiches:
- Heat a nonstick frying pan or a cast iron pan.
- Fry each sandwich on both sides until the cheese has melted and the outsides of the bread slices are browned.
Extra-sharp white cheddar is the best cheese for this particular grilled cheese sandwich recipe. The Bourbon and tarragon flavors are strong and need a strongly flavored cheese for balance.
I recommend that you use a crusty sourdough bread for this recipe.
For this particular recipe, I recommend that you use butter. Mayonnaise adds its signature tanginess and while that’s often a good thing, here it clashes with the flavor of the Bourbon caramelized shallots.
This recipe works well as a stand-alone, complete meal and really doesn’t need any condiments but if you want to serve a pickle with it, I recommend these cinnamon clove-flavored homemade refrigerator pickles.
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Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Tarragon and Bourbon Caramelized Shallots
- 4 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter, divided
- 3 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon Bourbon
- 6 slices firm sourdough bread
- 6 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds, ground*
- 30 tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
- Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a pan.
- Add the shallots and cook over medium heat until brown, about 15 minutes.
- Turn the heat off, then add the Bourbon to the shallots, turn the heat back on and cook for another minute.
- Take the pan off the heat and set aside.
- Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread.
- Turn the slices upside down, sprinkle the tarragon on the non-buttered side.
- Mix the cheese and the mustard seeds together in a bowl.
- Sprinkle the cheese/mustard seed mix onto the tarragon.
- Evenly divide the shallots on top of the cheese.
- Top the sandwiches with the remaining slices of buttered bread, keeping the buttered side on the outside.
- Heat a nonstick frying pan or a cast iron pan on medium heat for 3 minutes.
- Fry each sandwich on both sides until the cheese has melted and the outsides of the bread are browned.