Recipes: Tillamook Cheese Sandwiches

A few weeks ago, the kind folks at Tillamook delivered some delicious cheese to our office. Luckily, we had a cutting board and crackers on hand, and it made for a delectable afternoon. To enjoy Tillamook at home, here are two unique recipes that utilize the brand’s cheesy goodness:

Oregon Albacore Tuna Melt
Courtesy of Tommy Habetz and Nick Wood of Bunk Bar located in Portland, Ore.
2 – 6 oz cans albacore tuna
¼ cup finely diced red onion
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon minced basil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ciabatta rolls, split
Dijon mustard and mayonnaise, for spreading
8 – ¼-inch-thick slices of Tillamook® Sharp Cheddar or Tillamook® Swiss Cheese
24 slices garlic dill pickles
2 tablespoons (1 oz) Tillamook® Unsalted Butter, softened
In a medium bowl, mix the tuna with the onion, olive oil, vinegar, basil, and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a panini press or griddle. Spread the cut sides of the rolls with mustard and mayonnaise and top each roll half with a slice of cheese. Spread the tuna salad on the bottoms and cover with the pickles. Close the sandwiches and spread the outsides of the rolls with butter. Place the sandwiches on the press or griddle and cook over moderate heat until the cheese is melted, about 6 minutes. To make sure the sandwiches are fully cooked, open them up and place in a 450°F oven for about 1 minute. Remove from oven, close sandwiches, cut in half, and serve.

Taco Melt
Courtesy of Dave Danhi of the Grilled Cheese Truck, located in Los Angeles, Calif.
Overview: Layers of melted Tillamook Pepper Jack and Cotija cheese, taco meat, pico de gallo, and avocado cover crispy corn tortillas. Grill it all between two slices of chili cheese bread .
Butter Spread
¾ cup (6 oz) Tillamook® Unsalted Butter, room temperature
¾ cup (6 oz) mayonnaise
Taco Meat
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ yellow onion, cut into ¼ inch pieces
½ jalapeño
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/3 cup cilantro, washed and chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon white pepper, ground
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
Pico de Gallo
3 Roma tomatoes, cut in ¼ inch pieces
4 whole cloves of garlic, finely minced
½ red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
2 limes (juice only)
1 jalapeño, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste
8 slices chili cheese bread, thick ½ inch slices (Trader Joe’s brand, or see recipe)
16 slices Tillamook® Pepper Jack Cheese
8 whole corn tortillas, fried crisply
Taco meat mix (see recipe)
4 oz crumbled Cotija cheese
8 oz pico de gallo (see recipe)
1 large ripe avocado, cut into quarters and sliced thinly
Butter Spread
In a mixer, put butter and mayonnaise and beat with the paddle attachment until well mixed. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all butter as it may stick to the bowl.
Taco Meat
In a heavy bottom pot, heat olive oil until hot and add onions. Sauté for 5 minutes and add garlic and jalapeños. Sauté for 5 more minutes. Add ground beef and cook, stirring occasionally until thoroughly cooked. Add remaining ingredients and adjust seasonings to your taste. Remove from heat.
Pico de Gallo
Combine all ingredients and allow to chill for at least one hour.
Assembly of Sandwiches
Generously butter each slice of bread on one side and lay buttered side down. Add (in this order) on one slice of bread: 2 slices Pepper Jack, 1 crispy corn tortilla, 3 oz cooked taco meat, 1 oz crumbled Cotija cheese, ¼ of the avocado, 1 oz pico de gallo, 1 crispy corn tortilla, 2 slices Pepper Jack, and add the second slice of bread (buttered side out) to top it off.
Heat griddle to about 350°F. Place all sandwiches on griddle. Allow sandwiches to cook slowly. If your heat is too high, the bread will burn and the inside of the sandwich will not be hot. Once golden brown, gently flip and repeat until cheese is melted and inside is hot. If the bread browns prior to the inside being hot, place pan with sandwiches in oven at 450°F to allow to finish.
Jalapeno Cheese Bread (optional)
Cut one jalapeño into very thin slices (use a mandolin if you have one or a very sharp knife), and crumble (or shred) some Cheddar. Butter the outside of a plain piece of bread and place the jalapeño slices (about 4-6 per slice) on the butter. Sprinkle with a small amount of Cheddar and prepare the sandwich as directed above. Be sure to use a non-stick pan when doing it this way. You may want to lower the heat slightly (340°F) so the cheese doesn’t burn before the sandwich is ready.

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