When I was a kid, I loved grilled cheese sandwiches. Bread, butter, and Kraft American cheese. As an adult, my taste evolved (slightly), and I learned a grown-up grilled cheese sandwich was called a panini or a melt. It sounds fancier that way, and gives you the opportunity to turn a basic melted sandwich into something more intricate. And in my case, oftentimes turning it into a rather expensive meal.
It might have been known by everyone but me, but I discovered you can buy imitation crab meat right in the seafood department of the grocery store. I have had it in sushi, but that is about the only instance. I was willing to give it a shot somewhere in my dinner rotation. The package of flake imitation crab landed in my cart, then on the door of my fridge, but before putting it away, I opened the package and snuck a bite, just to be sure I was going to like it. It was pretty good, and I figured I would be able to come up with a clever way to incorporate it into a meal.
A couple of nights later, I decided to make up a crab melt. I used my favorite Pain D’Avignon white bread, buttered one side of two pieces and laid them flat into my pan. I like to assemble my melts in the pan before I turn on the heat; this way I am not dashing around the kitchen trying to assemble before the bread burns on the bottom. Bread with butter face down, I spread mayonnaise on one side and Bookbinder’s Horseradish Sauce on the other. I have had this horseradish sauce before, so I knew when the label says “sassy,” it really is sassy! I put a slice of American cheese down on each side, layered the imitation crab on one side, and turned the heat to medium. The temperature is really important to make sure the cheese melts, yet the bread doesn’t burn. When I see the cheese get melty, I peek under the corner of the bread to see if it’s the golden brown I want. When it is, I flip one side onto the other, making it a sandwich, and press down on it with my metal spatula. I take it off the pan, and slice it in half for eating.
I am sure I was breaking a number of seafood faux pas when I paired crabmeat with American cheese and horseradish, but Gordon Ramsey or Bobby Flay wouldn’t be joining me for dinner, so it didn’t bother me. The crab tasted decent cold, but even better warmed up. My taste buds told me that the sass from the horseradish sauce and mayonnaise was a perfect complement. The bread was crunchy — I recommend using a softer one, if you have sensitive or delicate teeth. I enjoyed it so much that I made another one the next night — just to be sure it really was as good as I remembered.