Ever since I was a kid, I would dream about the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. I still remember to this day — it was Dairy Days, a dairy cow show that happens about the middle of June in my county, our local radio host followed me around as I took my calf for a walk. He asked ‘what’s your favorite kind of cheese?’, I said — Muenster — it makes the best grilled cheese sandwich! The guy had never heard of Muenster cheese at the time and I was around 12 years old, so he was completely intrigued.
I still love Muenster cheese (both the American style and French Munster. In fact, I make my own now!), but I’ve branched out to other cheeses. Another crucial note, I’ve also branched out to other breads.
What does it take to make the best grilled cheese sandwich? It’s all based on preference, but I have some pointers that might guide you to that next ‘mhmm!’ moment.
A good melting cheese is key here. Gouda and a naturally aged Cheddar are not the best melting cheeses. If you insist on having either variety in your sandwich, give them a good run through the cheese grater. Grated cheese melts faster.
Variety is also important. Why go with just one cheese when more is obviously better? Grate some good Parmesan or Asiago into that cheese mixture. You won’t regret it (if you do, try something new next time)!
What are good melting cheeses?
Mozzarella (fresh and part-skim)
Semi-soft cheeses such as Bent River camembert or Little Lucy brie
Garlic Cheddar by Redhead Creamery (*ahem…)
White sandwich bread is a thing of the past. Sorry. Pick up some focaccia bread or a French loaf from your bakery. Brioche is another great option. If you’re wanting to create a sweet grilled cheese, use a cinnamon or apple strudel bread. You can use as thick of slices as you want, but be careful — the thicker the slice, the longer it will take for your cheese to melt. Sweet breads will give a ‘burned’ look much faster than any other bread, so be sure to grill at a lower heat.
This is where it starts to get fun. My ultimate favorite is a stinky, semi-soft cheese with some fig jam on a cinnamon raisin bread. *wiping off drool*
Bacon is always a good extra for grilled cheese. Sweeten it up by making candied bacon (baked bacon that’s smothered in brown sugar and a little cayenne pepper). Throw in some sliced or shredded apple or pear and top it off with some sort of jam or chutney.
Mix it up. You’ll be surprised at what tastes good together and your friends or family will be more than happy to taste test!
I no longer spread the butter on the bread slices before I grill my sandwich. Why? Well, it’s sloppy. I end up forgetting that I’ve buttered one side and set it on the counter top. I now have a greasy mess to clean up. I hate messes.
I spread some butter right on my griddle or cast iron fry pan and set my sandwich right on top of that melted butter. As soon as one side is done, I drop in some additional butter and flip the sandwich around. You’ll use less butter (I know, I’m supposed to be encouraging more dairy consumption here — moderation), but you’ll also get a more even browning on your sandwich.
Ever grill up a grilled cheese, get it on your plate, take a bite and find out it’s still cold inside? It’s the worst! There’s a few tricks to fix this dilemma. One option is to turn your oven on to 200 degrees before making your sandwich(es). Once the grilled cheese is done grilling, toss it on a pan in the oven for a few minutes and that cheese will melt right up for you.
Another option is to grill your sandwich at a lower heat and use the pan lid. If using a lid, remember to check on your sandwich every now and then. It would be depressing to find out that it’s burned. As I mentioned earlier, you can also grate your cheese in order to decrease melt time.
Whatever you end up doing, don’t give up and don’t be intimidated. I never make the same grilled cheese sandwich, unless I’m practicing for a blog post or recipe contest. It’s the perfect quick lunch or supper that has endless opportunities.
Happy Grilled Cheese Month!