April is National Grilled Cheese Month – Start with the Ultimate

Grilled Cheese Month - Saveur's Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Is National Grilled Cheese Month a Real Thing?

Honestly, we have no official source of information for National Grilled Cheese Month. Is it a government sanctioned commemoration? A Kraft marketing campaign blown out of proportion?

Is National Grilled Cheese Month a REAL holiday?!

We don’t know, and really, we don’t care. Who’s going to argue with an entire month dedicated to grilled cheese sandwiches? Certainly not us.

What is a Grilled Cheese Sandwich?

To me, a grilled cheese sandwich is pure comfort food, something that reminds me of childhood yet still beckons to be made into a thousand different creative ways.  I think everyone can relate to having their mother make grilled cheese sandwiches as a quick and easy afternoon snack – white bread, butter, and one (or two!) slices of American cheese.  A bowl of warm, creamy tomato soup might be the perfect pairing with the sandwich.

Grilled cheese sandwiches are also one of the first things that high school and college students venture to cook, because it is deadly simple and nearly fail-proof.  I’ve even seen recipes call for wax paper and a hot iron to make the sandwiches. We do not advocate this cooking method.

Bread + Cheese = Grilled Cheese Sandwich

A grilled cheese sandwich might be simple, but that doesn’t mean that getting it right is easy.  I like to start with buttering room temperature butter directly onto bread.  I prefer sourdough to white or wheat bread because the slight tang helps cut through the rich, gooey cheese.  Of course, nearly any kind of bread can be used to make a good grilled cheese sandwich.

On the subject of cheese, almost any cheese can work since most cheeses melt nicely under gentle heat.  However, there are some choices we can make beyond the classic American cheese that we all grew up with.  I love cheddar for its thickness and bite, while cheeses like gruyere and comte give a wonderful nuttiness to the sandwich.  Brie might seem almost bland and texturally simple  when cold but takes on another dimension of delicious flavor when it melts.  As we go through the month, you will see the incredible variety of cheeses that make compelling grilled cheese sandwiches.

I like to use a thick cast-iron skillet since it spread the heat of the stove evenly and makes a better browned “crust” on the sandwich.  Still, any thick-bottomed skillet or pan will work.  Using moderate heat is another important step because we don’t want to heat the sandwich too quickly.  It’s good to use grated cheese, especially for a cheese like gruyere or cheddar, because it aids in the melting.

Letting the sandwich cook gently over the course of fifteen or more minutes insures an even melt and an  ideal, slightly-crisp bread.  At this point you should be able to smell the redolent aromas of the browned butter and perhaps even the wafts of nutty cheese.  For some reason, grilled cheese sandwiches are always best when cut diagonally and separated slowly to see the melted cheese pull apart.  This alluring ritual prepares the senses for the perfect, simple feast.

Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe

via Saveur Magazine

Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich Ingredients

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
4 ½”-thick slices sourdough bread
1 8 oz. piece comté cheese, grated

Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich Directions:

1. Spread butter evenly on both sides of each slice of bread. Put half the cheese on one slice and half on another. Top each with remaining bread slices. Heat a 12″ cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat.

2. Add sandwiches to skillet and cook, flipping once with a metal spatula, until golden brown and crusty on both sides, 18–20 minutes.

3. Transfer sandwiches to a cutting board and slice in half with a knife. Serve warm.

by Matthew on April 1, 2010 · 2 comments

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: