As I've told you all before, I live in a small town. And sometimes it's hard to get a hold of all the fancy items found at supermarkets in larger cities. However, this is wine country, it should be easy to get fancy cheese, smoked cheese in particular. Hello...wine and cheese?
Anyway, I've given up and decided to make my own quick and simple smokey cheese with ingredients I always have on hand. It worked perfectly for a quick recipe like this one and added just the right amount of flavor to my sweet little crostini.
I am truly hooked on "smokey" flavors as I've spent a year delving into culinary trends involving them. I make almost everything smokey now, from spaghetti sauce to tacos and sometimes even dessert. Did you know "smokey" everything is taking over? Thanks Sargento Cheese for giving me the opportunity to take this foodie journey. I have found so many things I like and it has changed the way I cook.
As if you didn't already know, crostini is just about the greatest appetizer on planet earth. It's versatile and easy to throw together. You can make it simple or fancy depending on the occasion. The possibilities and toppings are seemingly endless and everyone loves a plate of hot crostini right out of the oven.
With this particular recipe (and I don't always do this) I wanted grill marks on my bread. I did this with my grill pan and the heavy press you see above. Just brush the bread with olive oil and use the press (or something heavy) to get the lovely, rustic marks. Since we eat with our eyes first, I think it really makes the bread appealing.
The bread stays crunchy when pre-grilled. And it looks beautiful!!
Back to the smokey cheese. I used Sargento's® Chef Blends™ Shredded 6 Cheese Italian in this recipe. It's one of my favorites with lots of flavor. I emptied the cheese into a larger bag with the smoked paprika, shaking it until the cheese was completely coated. It's that simple. Instant smokey cheese. Then I divided the cheese and pancetta among the bread pieces and put it in the oven.
Sprinkle with parsley once it's done and you have an amazing appetizer.
Smokey Cheese & Pancetta Crostini
- 2 cups Sargento® Chef Blends™ Shredded 6 Cheese Italian
- 2 Tablespoons smoked paprika
- 10-12 ounces diced pancetta (reserve fat from cooking)
- 1 baguette sliced in 24 pieces
- 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 whole garlic cloves
- 2 Tablespoons finely minced parsley
- In a large plastic bag, combine cheese and paprika. Seal and shake until cheese is completely coated with paprika. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a nonstick skillet, fry pancetta until slightly crispy. The pancetta will make about 2 Tablespoons of fat, reserve this for later in the recipe.
- Brush each slice of bread (one side) with olive oil. Heat a grill pan to med-high heat and brush oil on the pan. Place bread, oil down, on the grill pan and place something heavy on top in order to get nice grill marks.
- Place grilled bread on a foil covered baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Rub each piece with garlic. Evenly divide cheese and pancetta over bread. Drizzle a small amount of reserved fat from the pancetta over each slice. Place in the oven on the top rack for 7-8 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately while warm and crunchy.
Everyone will be scrambling for the last piece.
Two Years Ago: Lemon Pudding Cakes
Three Years Ago: Quadruple Cheese Macaroni with Smokey Bacon
Four Years Ago: Weekend Business
Disclosure: This post was made possible by Sargento Cheese, a wonderful family brand located in the heart of Wisconsin. Please support this company who helps to make posts on this blog possible. As always, all opinions about their products are 100% my own.