Field Notes

Pasilla-Dipped Grilled Cheese

Pasilla-Dipped Grilled Cheese

Makes 1 sandwich

The inspiration for this melty, messy sandwich is the pambazo, a classic street food dish from Mexico City. The bread absorbs all of the rich flavor of the chilies, which acts as a refreshing balance to the melted cheese. Serve with lots of napkins!

  • 5 dried pasilla chiles
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ cup pureed tomatoes
  • Salt
  • 2 slices soft bread (such as potato bread)
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Place the chiles in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 10 minutes, until the chilies have softened.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and cook 1 minute more. Transfer the onion mixture to a food processor or blender. Drain the chilies, reserving 1 cup of the liquid. Add the chilies, reserved liquid, tomatoes, and salt to the blender and puree.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Pour about ½ cup of the sauce into a shallow dish. In a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Coat each slice of bread in the sauce. Place one slice of bread in the skillet, top with the mozzarella, followed by the other slice of bread. Cook for 5 minutes, then flip the sandwich and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Slice and serve immediately.

You can use the leftover pasilla sauce as a marinade for chicken or pork, or toss with grilled corn.