NEW YORK (WLNY) — April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Day.

Mackenzie Smith, founder of, stopped by The Couch to show us how to create a great grilled cheese and pair it with wine.

Bushwick Painkiller Paired with Domaine Carneros Brut


2 undercooked waffles
1 cup of fried chicken
4 slices Wisconsin Cheddar
2 pats salted butter
.5 tbsp honey
.5 tbsp hot sauce


1. So before we begin, let me stress that it’s super important that your waffles are undercooked. If they’re not they’ll end up burning too quickly before the cheese melts and then you’ll hate life more than you already do. Trust me.

2. Ok, so to begin, slap two slices of Wisconsin Cheddar down onto one of the waffles. Easy, right? See, I do care about you.

3. Then it’s time for the life-saving ingredient – FRIED CHICKEN. I think little nuggets work best on this sandwich but you could totally just use chicken fingers or whatever you have on hand. Just don’t use anything with bones on it. That sounds like an awful idea.

4. When it’s all evenly laid out and you’re about to chow down on one too many “tastes” of the fried chicken, then it’s time to mix the hot sauce and honey together. This is my all time favorite condiment on fried chicken. It’s so good. Sweet and spicy and oh so sticky. Smothering it on at this step helps the sandwich stay together so you can eat it when your fine motor skills aren’t working so fine.

5. Now put the other two Wisconsin Cheddar slices on top and you’re almost done!

6. Once this little sammie is built, it’s time to heat up the grill. Turn your burner to medium and melt a pat of butter right in the pan. Place the GC on top and let it cook until it gets all crispy and golden and melty and delicious and irresistible. Yes, a sandwich can most-definitely be irresistible.

7. After grilling for about 4-6 minutes on each side, this bad boy will be all done and will anxiously be waiting to be shoved down your gullet and into your belly. I’d let it rest for a second to let the cheddar firm back up a bit.

Pleasure Pasture Paired with St. Francis Cabernet Sauvignon


Leek and Morel Jack Cheese (Springside)
Goat Salami (The Underground Butcher)
Candied Garlic
Pretzel Roll
Broiled Cherry Tomatoes
Salted Butter


1. I try a lot of crazy cheeses (if you ever see me in person, don’t forget to ask me about coconut gouda) but I’d never even heard of a jack made with leek and morels. Just from the name I knew it was going to be nuts. I mean, come on, how fancy does that sound? Earthy morels meet fragrant leeks and combine with a sharp jack to create one super flavorful and meltable cheese that’s perfect for grillin’. To begin, add a moderately thick slice of the cheese and plop it down on some pretzel rolls slices.

2. Now add some of that goat salami from Underground Butcher. It’s way more gamey and earthy than typical pork salami but I think it holds up perfectly against the woodsy cheese. To me, salami taste WAY WAY WAY better when they’re sliced super thin so follow my lead and try to get them as skinny as possible.  Lay on a few pieces and make sure to gobble a few down.

3. Now it’s time for the broiled tomatoes. These are super simple to make. Basically slice cherry tomatoes down the middle, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and place in your broiler – seed side up. Let them broil for a few minutes until they start to pop, ooze, and eventually caramelize. Then put them in a bowl and cover to let them keep steaming. Oh yeah.

4. Here’s where the craziest ingredient comes in – the candied garlic. I thought of this after having bacon brittle in Wisconsin. It got me thinkin’ what else I could brittle? Oh yeah, GARLIC. It sounds complicated but it’s actually super easy. Watch my video on instagram to see how I did it – HERE.

* Once you have this sweet, spicy, and crunchy treat read, crack it and sprinkle it on top of the sandwich. It not only gives it a super nice crunch, but it also adds an extra sweet note that is much needed in such an earthy sandwich.

5. Now add another slice of cheese and the top piece of bread. Omy omg ALMOST DONE!

6. Now butter both sides of the bread, turn your burner to medium heat and place ’em in.

7. After a few minutes, they should be all golden and brown and irresistible. Flip, repeat, and invite some of your BFFs over.

Blueberry Baby Paired with St. Francis Chardonnay


1 bagel, cut in half and scooped out
1 small wedge of Wisconsin Brie
2 tbsp of BelGioioso Mascarpone Cheese
2 tbsp of blistered blueberries (recipe below)
a few basil leaves, torn
2 pats of salted butter


1. First, cut your bagel in half and scoop out the interior of both sides. This will create the perfect little nook to keep your fillings inside the sandwich. Then, with a very sharp serrated knife, very carefully cut off the outside off the bagel so that the nice bready interior can be used to create a super crispy crust on your sandwich at the end.

2. Next, fill the nook of one half of your bagel with brie. Try to keep it all in the grilled cheese canyon or mote as I like to think of it. After all, it is guarding your face from getting burnt by molten cheese.

3. Then, lay your blistered blueberries on top of the Brie.

* To make these sweet and tart treats, all you need to do is melt a pat of salted butter in your skillet and add a cup of blueberries. Turn your heat to high and let them cook up. Add a tablespoon of brown sugar once you start to see them pop and stir until evenly coated. Allow to cook for a few more minutes until the juices release and start to thicken.

**And if you don’t want to go through all that, you could totally just use some sort of blueberry preserves. Those will work perfectly, they just won’t be as much fun as making them yourself!

4. Next, lay some torn basil leaves on top of your blueberries. I think this earthy herbal contrast is so nice against the creamy brie and the bright blueberries. Fresh mint would also be super dope.

5. Almost done! Just smear on some of that sweet mascarpone into the other bagel half’s canal and really pack it in there. It’s so good. If you’ve never had it before, it’s like sweet cream cheese mixed with ricotta mixed with whatever kisses the hottest person in the world gives. Yeah, it’s like that.

6. Combine the two halves together and awe in their glory.

7. Now that this insane sandwich is built, turn your burner to medium high and butter both sides of your soon-to-be grilled cheese. Place it in your skillet and allow to cook for a few minutes until the bagel turns golden and crispy. Flip and repeat. Remember, both of these cheeses melt super fast so they don’t need to be on the burner for long. Just a few minutes will do.

8. Then once it’s all done, you will definitely want to let this little baby sit for a minute or two. Those cheeses need to thicken up and soak in all the flavors from the blueberries and the basil. Or if you can’t wait, who cares, you’ll just have to lick your plate to make sure nothing goes to waste.

You can also celebrate Grilled Cheese Day by entering a gourmet grilled cheese and wine pairing competition sponsored by St. Francis Winery.

St. Francis Grilled Cheese & Wine Contest (credit: St. Francis Winery)

St. Francis Grilled Cheese & Wine Contest (credit: St. Francis Winery)

The 3rd Annual “Say Cheese!” contest runs from April 12 through May 17. All you have to do is create a cool recipe and pair it with one of your favorite St. Francis wines. Check out their Facebook page for more information.

In celebration of National Grilled Cheese Day, Chef MJ Brando is introducing the first-ever microwaveable grilled cheese sandwich.

He’s offering consumers free grilled cheese sandwiches. Head over to his Facebook page to find out how to redeem the special rebate.

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