Behold—the Lake Erie Monster. J.R. Sullivan
Melt Bar & Grilled, in the Cleveland suburbs of Lakewood and Cleveland Heights, has one specialty: grilled-cheese sandwiches. The menu presence of 26 variations on that humble childhood favorite—there’s even one stuffed with lasagna—is just one indicator of how far and wide owner Matt Fish is willing to take a grilled-cheese. Another: the Lake Erie Monster, in which a Guinness-battered walleye fillet is swamped in a gleeful mess of melted American cheese, jammed between thick slices of toast, and served with jalapeño-spiked tartar sauce. This is fish camp cuisine taken to its belt-loosening outer limits.
- 4 walleye fillets (or other firm white-fleshed fish)
- 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup Guinness ale
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- Oil, for frying
- 8 slices thick white bread (such as Texas toast), toasted
- 16 slices American cheese
For the jalapeño tartar sauce
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup pickle chips
- 1/4 cup roughly-chopped onion
- 2 Tbsp. capers
- 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
- Scant teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. dill
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 cup jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
- Make the batter: In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, pepper, chili powder, and baking powder, and whisk until combined. In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs, beer, and buttermilk in a small bowl until combined. Add the wet ingredients to the larger bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While it’s warming up, heat the oil in a deep-fryer or heavy pot to 350 degrees. Rinse the walleye fillets in cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Spread the remaining flour on a plate and dredge the fillets in the flour, shaking off any excess. When the oil is ready, dip the floured fillets in the batter one at a time, fully coating it so that the batter is thick and drippy. Add to the oil, and continue with the remaining fillets. Fry 7 to 10 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and golden brown.
- While the fish is cooking, arrange the toasted bread slices on a baking sheet and place two slices of cheese on each piece. When the fish is done, transfer the fillets to a paper towel, to sponge away any excess oil, then place the fillets atop the cheese on four of the slices of bread. Place in the oven for about 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven, and construct the sandwiches. Serve with the jalapeño tartar sauce on the side. Serves 4
How to Make the Jalapeño Tartar Sauce
- Add the mayonnaise to a mixing bowl. Combine the pickles, onion, capers, and garlic in a food processor and pulse for 10 to 20 seconds until finely chopped. (Alternatively, you can use a knife to chop everything.) Add the chopped ingredients to a strainer to drain off any liquid, then add to the mayonnaise.
- Add the mustard, lemon juice and zest, pepper, dill, and sugar, and whisk thoroughly, until everything is smoothly incorporated. Add the jalapeños and whisk again. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. Makes 2 cups