Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Making The Perfect Grown-Up Grilled Cheese

Chances are, if it's a snowy (or way-too-cold-to-go-outside) work-from-home kind of day we're makin' grilled cheeses for lunch.

The grilled cheese holds a special place in my heart. For me, it's synonymous with childhood and late-night diners. It's crunchy, oozy and fun. What's not to love? It's cheese!

As a child I liked it simple - buttered bread and cheese, maybe some bacon. It was always a "Happy Waitress" minus the tomato. Raw tomato on a grilled cheese was gross, eww. Of course, as an adult my tastes have evolved and so have my grilled cheese making skills.


Here is what I think makes the perfect grown-up grilled cheese:
  1. Use quality ingredients. Please, please, please do not use that white bread that shall remain nameless and processed American cheese-like product. You are better than that. You and your grilled cheese deserve better. Use real butter, a quality whole grain bread and real cheese.
  2. Use frozen slices of bread. This is my secret weapon. I'm not taking about thawed previously frozen slices. Literally, use the slices right out of the freezer. Butter them up, pile on the cheese and get them on the grill while still pretty much hard as a rock. This bizarre process makes for the crispiest, most perfectly golden grilled cheese. Not to toot my own horn but, well, I will. I often get compliments on the crunch factor of my grilled cheese to which I totally attribute to this technique. Seriously, give it a try.
  3. Keep the heat on the lower side of medium. Cooking at a lower temperature allows the heat time to really get into the sandwich and melt the cheese without burning the bread.
  4. Have fun with the combinations. Sure I love a simple ol' fashioned grilled cheese, but I suggest you try something new too. After all, the combinations are endless. Bacon, cheddar and tomato jam on whole wheat. Dill Havarti and thinly sliced pears on pumpernickel ... you get the idea. Think of it as an adventure for your taste buds.
With those tips in mind, here are two grilled cheese combinations worth trying if you love "stinky" cheese.


Camembert and Fig Jam Grilled Cheese
Serves 1

Ingredients
  • 2 slices whole grain bread, frozen
  • 1 1/2 oz. sliced Camembert
  • 1-2 tablespoons fig jam
  • butter
Directions
  1. Preheat a griddle or skillet over medium-low heat.
  2. Butter one side of each slice of frozen bread.
  3. Flip the bread slices over and slather them with the fig jam. Top half with the Camembert.
  4. Place the other bread slice on top (butter side out) and get it on the hot griddle.
  5. When one side is a dark golden brown, carefully flip and grill the other side.
  6. When that side is dark golden brown, slice it in half and serve.

Stilton and Apple Grilled Cheese
Serves 1

Ingredients
  • 2 slices rye bread, frozen
  • 3-4 very thin slices of apple (use a sweet variety like Honey crisp)
  • 1 1/2 oz. thin slices/crumbles of Stilton
  • butter
Directions
  1. Preheat a griddle or skillet over medium-low heat.
  2. Butter one side of each slice of frozen bread.
  3. Flip the bread slices over. Build the sandwich on one half. Start with some of the Stilton cheese, followed by the apple slices, then another layer of cheese.
  4. Place the other bread slice on top (butter side out) and get it on the hot griddle.
  5. When one side is a dark golden brown, carefully flip and grill the other side.
  6. When that side is dark golden brown, slice it in half and serve.
What are your favorite combinations for grilled cheese?

Photos by Renato Ghio

6 comments:

  1. I'm going to have to try frozen bread. There are two major things that have to be perfect in a grilled cheese, the meltiness of the cheese and the crunchiness of the bread. I have mastered the meltiness with the perfect combination of cheeses, but the crunchiness is another story. Thanks for the tip!

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    1. Meltiness and crunchiness definitely make or break a grilled cheese. Glad I could offer my advice. :)

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  2. Great tip with the frozen bread! Can't wait to try it - AND to try those two great recipes you have.
    My favorite grilled cheese is a Swiss cheese and caramelized onions on rye! For some reason it's my "go-to" comfort food when I have a cold!

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    Replies
    1. Yum - Swiss & caramelized onions. Great combo!

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  3. Mouth. Watering.
    Frozen Bread: Genius!

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