Stinky Cheese…

…and “Tom the Troll’s Panini”

How do you feel about stinky cheese?

I can handle Bleu types, Parmesan/Romano types, Swiss types, Feta types, whatever. I CANNOT handle any sort of cheese that comes from a goat. I know it’s all the rage, but I will always avoid any sort of goat cheese (and milk and even meat). Have I tried to acquire a taste for these goaty products? Half-heartedly in the past. Now I’m grown up enough to proclaim, “I AM DONE.” No more sampling. The smell is just not worth it to me, especially since there are so many other delicious products available. Maybe I haven’t found the right flavor to mask the goaty smell—perhaps I need a roasted garlic/chipotle/pesto chèvre.

Anyway, when I was developing my cookbook, I went ahead and utilized Limburger for this troll-inspired delicacy.

This is quite a pungent sandwich which is great on its own or as an accompaniment to soup. Limburger seems most fitting for trolls because of its smell (meaning no offense to trolls, of course…); however, I find it to have a rather mild flavor. You might disagree; in a casual sampling of Limburger cheese in my mother’s kitchen, six people had different opinions on its flavor though everyone did agree it was stinky. It is a cow-based cheese, but it really does smell like incredibly sour feet.

Bob likes this particular sandwich with Brie and sourdough. Callista dislikes raw onion, so I usually leave a slice off of her portion.

Now, all that being said, have I ever purchased Limburger cheese again? Nope.

You can certainly use a sandwich press if you like (hence my term, Panini), but a common griddle will cook both at once and a press might only accommodate one at a time. I stress the word carefully in the recipe below, since this is loaded with stuff and you don’t want it all to fall out.

The first sandwich is known as Pig and Curd on Bread (a.k.a. Brie & Bacon Panini) in my cookbook. The second is affectionately known as Want Stinkier Sandwich (a.k.a. Bleu & Bacon Panini). YUM (bellows the troll…).

From “The Hobbit”—Troll Treats

Well, you can imagine that running into three trolls would be a terrifying encounter, but with the help of Gandalf’s cleverness, the trolls are vanquished mainly by their own argumentative behavior. Now rescued from the stewpot, our intrepid adventurers discover a cave in which the trolls had stored bread, cheese, ale, and bacon. It’s a good thing too, for Bilbo and his dwarf companions are starving for breakfast. Tolkien is not specific as to what kind of bread or cheese, so I am taking some latitude here—I believe these sandwiches would probably satisfy most trolls, at least as an amuse-bouche

“Tom the Troll’s Panini”

  • 2 tablespoons small capers, drained well
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 4 slices sourdough or multi-grain bread, about ½” thick, 4″ by 5″
  • 7-8 ounces Brie, Camembert, or Limburger cheese, cut into ¼” slices (use the rind as well)
  • A large red onion, cut 4 slices from the center, ¼” slices
  • 6 slices good quality bacon, cooked until crispy (precooked variety is okay)
  • 3-4 tablespoons soft salted butter, or spreadable margarine

Combine the first four ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Lay one slice of bread on a cutting board and layer it with half the cheese, two slices of onion, and three strips of bacon. Spread half of the mustard mixture on another slice of bread and place this side down on top of the bacon. Press down all over the sandwich. Spread the top with about a tablespoon of butter. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Heat a griddle to medium-hot.

Carefully place each sandwich on hot griddle, butter side down, and press down all over with your hands or a spatula. Now butter the tops of each. When golden brown (2-3 minutes should do), carefully flip each over. Press down all over again and fry the other side until it is golden brown, another 2-3 minutes. Cut in half and serve. Cover and refrigerate leftovers. Serves 2-4.

The trolls seem to have some rather bad-natured competition and grouchiness going on between themselves; Tolkien describes it as “a gorgeous row.” Bill would want his sandwich to be even more smelly than his companion’s sandwich, of course.

“Bill the Troll’s Stinkier Panini”

For this one, everything is the same with these exceptions:

  • Use any kind of rye or pumpernickel for the bread

For the cheese, use:

  • 2 ounces any sort of Bleu cheese—such as Gorgonzola (rather mild), Stilton, Bleu, or Roquefort (rather strong)—it just depends on your taste—crumbled
  • 3 ounces light cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened

Mash the two cheeses together and spread equally on two slices of bread. Proceed with the directions in the preceding recipe. If you use pumpernickel, you will have to pay close attention to it, since it’s already dark brown; you’ll want it toasted but not burned. Cover and refrigerate leftovers. Serves 2-4.

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