Monday, October 4, 2010

Grilled Cheese

I think I can accurately say that most, if not all, of us grew up eating grilled, or toasted, cheese sandwiches. I ate them as a kid, and now I feed them to my kids. There’s just something special about warm, melted cheese on golden, crispy bread that puts a smile on my face.

The classic grilled cheese with which more people are familiar is made with white bread, butter, and some type of processed cheese product (e.g. American cheese). I grew up eating Velveeta grilled cheese. Regardless of what type of cheese you use, keep in mind that an inferior cheese will produce an inferior sandwich. Not all American cheese slices are created equal. Some have more vegetable oil and less actual cheese and dairy in them. My personal favorite is Kraft Singles, but I only buy them when they are on sale.

I prefer to use real butter for spreading on the outside because it just tastes so good!! Unfortunately, I often forget to get the butter out of the fridge ahead of time to soften. In these cases, I use tub margarine or, better yet, mayonnaise.

For some reason some people are very particular about how their grilled cheese should be cut. Mine must be cut into two triangles. My daughter has to have hers cut into four squares. The boys are too young to care, but it seems that four triangles are the easiest for them to eat. Regardless of what shape you like your sandwich, you should always wait a couple minutes before cutting. This gives the cheese a little time to cool off and prevents too much cheese from oozing out.


My parents have this great griddle on their stove--perfect for
making more than one grilled cheese at a time.

Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 slices white bread
1 American cheese slice

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, butter one side of each slice of bread. Place bread, buttered side down, in heated skillet. Place one slice of cheese on bread and top with second piece of bread, buttered side up. Cook until first side is golden and crispy; flip. Continue to cook until second side is golden and crispy. Yield: 1 sandwich. Cost: less than $0.20!!!

While I still do enjoy a simple white and American grilled cheese, I’ve discovered a few amazing variations over the last few years. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different cheeses and different breads.

If you are using real cheese (not American or Velveeta) and your sandwich is pretty tall when you put it all together, the bread may burn before the cheese is melted. Simply cover the sandwich while it cooks to trap the heat and speed up the melting process. If you don’t have a lid that fits your skillet, you can use a metal mixing bowl turned upside down. In a pinch, you could even use aluminum foil.

Parmesan-Crusted Grilled Cheese
Sprinkle shredded or grated parmesan over buttered sides of bread before cooking. Be sure to use a good non-stick skillet for this.

Cheddar on Sourdough
Use shredded cheddar. It will melt much faster than cheddar slices.

Cheddar on parmesan-crusted sourdough.  Sorry for
the bad photo.
 Pizza Grilled Cheese
Sprinkle buttered sides of artisan bread with garlic powder and parmesan cheese. Fill with mozzarella cheese, pizza or spaghetti sauce, and your favorite pizza toppings.

Pizza grilled cheese with pepperoni and tomato.

Grilled Ham and Cheese
Add a slice of ham. Lunchmeat will do, but leftover Christmas ham is delicious.

Tomato Grilled Cheese
Add a slice of tomato. Be sure to remove the seeds; they tend to be too liquidy.

Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions
Make the Classic Grilled Cheese (above), but add some caramelized onions on the cheese before you put the second piece of bread on top.

Deluxe Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions
I was inspired by the grilled cheese sandwiches at In-N-Out and came up with these, which my husband absolutely loves!  Add caramelized onions to the sandwich before cooking it.  After the sandwich is cooked, open it up and place a tomato slice and lettuce in it.

For more Grilled Cheese Variations, check out The Tasty Kitchen Blog's post on grilled cheese!  Since we haven't personally tried all of these, we can't vouch for them, but they may help inspire some grilled cheese creativity!


Crystal Malek said...

I discovered a special way to tweak grilled cheese a couple of months ago. Instead of buttering one side of the bread, you butter both sides. Toast one side first, then flip that slice over and place cheese on the toasted side while the under side toasts. The both sides of toasty goodness made this sooooo yummy.

rachelamunrud said...


Sumiko said...

Crystal, thanks for the tip! I'll have to try it--sounds like my husband's type of grilled cheese.

Rachel, so glad you are enjoying it!! We enjoy writing it!

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