Pennsylvania Kitchen: Ultimate Adams County Grilled Cheese with Farmer/Cider Maker Ben Wenk

We’re back with a new video for our Pennsylvania Kitchen series, where we ask a chef, maker, artisan or farmer to spend some time in our kitchen and share a recipe inspired by local produce and products. In this, our second installment, we spent the afternoon with Ben Wenk, of Three Springs Fruit Farms and Ploughman Cider, both based in Adams County. Ben is a seventh-generation fruit farmer and cider maker, known throughout Pennsylvania as a kind, enthusiastic and knowledgeable guy, a wealth of information on all things apple-related, and most things local and delicious.

The apples from Three Springs are widely considered to be best-in-class, and the farmhouse ciders that Ploughman makes under the direction of head cider maker Hans Edwin Winzeler are coveted by craft beverage enthusiasts. If you’ve already had it, you know what a treat it is, and if you haven’t, we strongly suggest picking up a bottle for your next special dinner or cozy night in.

During our lunchtime hang, Ben shared a recipe for his ultimate PA grilled cheese, made with local wheat bread from Bakewell Farm spread with Three Springs apple butter, then topped with onions caramelized in Ploughman cider, shredded PA-aged cheddar and thin slices of Three Springs Pink Lady apples. The whole gorgeous thing is grilled in a cast-iron skillet with a generous hunk of butter, and the result is just phenomenal. The earthy sweetness of the apple butter and onions with the melted cheddar and the tart bite of the fresh apple is unreal. It just goes to show that a few, high-quality, local ingredients can elevate even the most simple of dishes!

Find the recipe here.