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My Soul is Made of Grilled Cheese
June 21, 2011 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Want to make a grilled cheese sandwich? Here you go. Want to take it to the next level?

Grown up Grilled Cheese.
Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
Grilled Cheese Social: a blog committed to this heavenly food.
Grilled Shane: another blog dedicated to grilled cheese.

Don't miss the Grilled Cheese Academy, which also includes may recipes.

Here's a history of the grilled cheese sandwich, if you need something to ponder over the griddle.

Why all this attention? Because "grilled cheese makes people happy."
posted by SpacemanStix (122 comments total) 146 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously. (sorry)
posted by teraflop at 8:49 PM on June 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Love it. We can't forget the Bloody Bacon and Cheese.
posted by King Bee at 8:50 PM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Somewhat previously.
posted by JiBB at 8:52 PM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It needs tomato and chili.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:56 PM on June 21, 2011


American cheese on a grilled cheese sandwich?! Barf! I thought this grilled cheese video was much, much better.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:57 PM on June 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I recently saw the quote, "I would marry grilled cheese if it were socially acceptable," which I got a good laugh from.
posted by neuromodulator at 8:59 PM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


American cheese on a grilled cheese sandwich?! Barf!

It's a comfort food thing. As much as I like good cheese on good bread, sometimes I just have to have a grilled cheese sandwich made with white bread, american cheese and margarine.
posted by stavrogin at 9:02 PM on June 21, 2011 [22 favorites]


I put mine in the fridge and call them chilled grease sandwiches.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:03 PM on June 21, 2011 [16 favorites]


Knowing Metafilter's history with grilled cheese sandwiches I'll admit I was a little hesitant to watch that first video.

The best grilled cheese sandwiches mix Swiss and Gouda on a sturdy whole wheat.

(That's what he said.)
posted by BlueJae at 9:07 PM on June 21, 2011


I don't care if we've had this discussion before. I love grilled cheese sandwiches.
posted by arcticseal at 9:08 PM on June 21, 2011


Key to a grilled cheese is mayo on the outside.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:12 PM on June 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have to cry foul. Most of the video is correct, but it *cannot* be that processed cheese food wrapped in PLASTIC! It must be Land'o'Lakes White (OK, Yellow is fine too). Also, you may need a weight on top while grilling and fold the corners of al cheese slice in so that none of them extend proud of the bread. Bacon and Tomato is fine, but the real challenge with the tomato is slicing it thin enough. If you want to really experience the ultimate grilled cheese sensation, use President's butter (it's french and real hard to find these days, it used to be a staple at Trader Joe's a couple years ago).
posted by Rafaelloello at 9:16 PM on June 21, 2011


Grilled camembert with homemade (yes, really) apricot-coriander jam on homemade bread.

I'm not saying I know for a fact my gal and I made the best grilled cheeses ever that day, but if I were to learn it were so I wouldn't be at all surprised.

c'mon, the whole process took two days
posted by sourwookie at 9:16 PM on June 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like a nice sharp Cheddar, a little mustard (inside), unsalted butter (outside). But I don't know that I've ever met a grilled cheese sandwich that wasn't in some way delicious.
posted by rtha at 9:18 PM on June 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Link 2: Food historians generally agree that cooked bread and cheese combinations [in many different forms, textures and tastes] were ancient foods known across most continents and cultures.

Really? They're seriously opening with this? 'Most continents and cultures'? Yeah, whatever. Ctrl-F4.
posted by pompomtom at 9:19 PM on June 21, 2011


Really? Ctrl-F4? Yeah, whatever. Ctrl-W.
posted by koeselitz at 9:21 PM on June 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


When I saw "grilled cheese makes people happy" I was sure it would be a link to the Boston Globe advice column. The one discussed in the MetaFilter thread linked by several others above.

Mine is somewhat like rtha's, except that I use more than a little mustard. And it's stone-ground.

Earlier in life I was fond of just putting cheese on bread and sticking it in the microwave. Maybe with a slice of tomato hidden between the layers of cheese. My mom used to call this the "tomato surprise" despite the fact that it usually wasn't a surprise.
posted by grouse at 9:22 PM on June 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid, my method for making a grilled cheese was:

1. make toast with the toaster
2. put a slice of cheapo american cheese between the toast
3. zap it on high in the microwave until you hear a pop.

The cheese would explode in the microwave, sometimes making a big mess, but most of the time the cheese-splosion was self contained between the toast.
posted by jefbla at 9:25 PM on June 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


> It's a comfort food thing. As much as I like good cheese on good bread, sometimes I just have to have a grilled cheese sandwich made with white bread, american cheese and margarine.

Grilled cheese is the only meal I can think of that I enjoy a lot more when it's made with cheap, nutritionally-awful ingredients.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:30 PM on June 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


I really despise the little George Foreman grill-things, mostly because they lead almost inevitably to hideously tough and dried-out meat, but have to admit that they make a pretty respectable "grilled cheese press" — a sort of Archie Bunkeresque version of the panini press.

Seconding Land-o-Lakes as the correct cheese to use, if you're going to use American cheese. Say what you want about the disgustingness of American cheese, but that Kraft shit isn't even it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:33 PM on June 21, 2011


Goddammit, now I'm hungry.
posted by bwg at 9:40 PM on June 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here you go, bwg. Fresh off the stove. Sharp cheddar on whole grain with lots of butter.
posted by MrFTBN at 9:47 PM on June 21, 2011


The next next level. Crappy website, delicious grilled cheese.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:51 PM on June 21, 2011


Grilled brie sandwich with fig jam.

That is all.
posted by tzikeh at 10:07 PM on June 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like almost any grilled cheese. Velveeta on Wonderbread, brie and havarti on a crusty batard drizzled in ollive oil and stuffed with broiled onions and tomatoes, raclette, fondue, whatever.

Melted cheese + toasted and/or greasy crunchy bread = yom.
posted by loquacious at 10:09 PM on June 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


And yom is of course the sound you make when you say yum and nom at the same time.
posted by loquacious at 10:10 PM on June 21, 2011 [14 favorites]


Grilled swiss, bacon, onion and jalapeno on rye. I know this is going to sound like a huge violation of all that is good, but if you microwave it for 15-20 seconds first, you cook the onion and jalapeno just right and get the cheese starting to melt before you put it on the griddle for crispness and the rest of the melt.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:17 PM on June 21, 2011


I like tuna melts. Are those a subset of the grilled cheese sandwich?

In Australia, a grilled cheese sandich is a 'cheese toasty'. The more you know!

I used to make open faced grilled cheeses and eat them while drinking chocolate milk.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:19 PM on June 21, 2011


Provolone & tomato on sourdough. Extra points if the tomato was picked in your backyard.
posted by anotherkate at 10:23 PM on June 21, 2011


This is a little out there and probably not for everyone, but Ice Cream Grilled Cheese PB&J recipe.

Many of the photos from the Grilled Cheese Invitational have recipes and/or ingredient lists.
posted by carsonb at 10:39 PM on June 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is a little out there and probably not for everyone, but Ice Cream Grilled Cheese PB&J recipe.

Cheese ice cream! I would eat that sandwich.
posted by loquacious at 10:46 PM on June 21, 2011


Key to a grilled cheese is mayo on the outside.

American cheese, mayo, and white bread. All squished and burnt to perfection. My gourmet food when I was first allowed to use the stove.
posted by shinyshiny at 10:47 PM on June 21, 2011


I can't believe Muenster--the ultimate grilled cheese cheese, especially in combination with something like sharp cheddar--hasn't been mentioned yet. Its meltiness is unparalleled.

------ <- bread
----- <- sharp cheddar
- - - - <- slices of garlic
----- <- slice of tomato
------ <- Muenster
------- <- bread

My grandmother's recipe, God rest her soul.
posted by nasreddin at 10:48 PM on June 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


One time I made what as a kid we used to call "Toad in the Holes" but I hear that's a british term for something very different than what we had, and I guess the proper term is "Eggs in a Basket"...

At some point in the past couple years I decided to start with a grilled cheese sandwich as the base bread, then cut the hole into the full on sandwich and fry the egg in the middle as the regular version would have it made... (obviously, undercook the one side so when you cook the egg it doesn't burn the bread).

I only had sharp cheddar available though, and I am now firmly of the belief that it HAS to be American. I love me cheddar. I love 2 year, 4 year, aged organic cheddar. I like Kraft sharp, Kraft extra sharp. I like it all in the right place and time.

But nuh-uh... On a grilled cheese it has to be American. I haven't tried it since w/American. But I think it might be good. And maybe add some bacon to make it even better.

Fuck now I'm hungry!
posted by symbioid at 11:05 PM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


MrFTBN: "Here you go, bwg. Fresh off the stove. Sharp cheddar on whole grain with lots of butter."

Ya tease. But thanks for the effort.
posted by bwg at 11:12 PM on June 21, 2011


Jesus, people.

Whole grain bread. Cheddar cheese. Tuna. Tomato.

Grilled cheese sandwich for an unpretentious, hungry grownup.
posted by auto-correct at 12:22 AM on June 22, 2011


Making cheese-on-toast with processed cheese is wrong, but when I was living in Japan without easy access to decent cheese I was driven to rely on dodgy Hokkaido "Snow Cheese" and it was... tolerable. There's no way I'd use those obscene orange synthetic casein plaques they eat in the States though.

Best recipe:
Bread (preferably soft fake rye bread - this is the only use for soft fake rye bread)
Olive oil
Avocado
Tomato
Dried oregano
Optional: tabasco sauce
Edam or mild tasty cheese

1. Pour a little olive oil on a plate and dip one side of each slice of bread in it (the oily sides go on the outside).
2. Mush up the avocado and spread thickly on the bread.
3. Slice the tomato and lay it on top.
4. Sprinkle on the oregano and tabasco.
5. Put slices of cheese on top and the other slice of bread on top of that.
6. Put in sandwich press (in the absence of a sandwich press, a frying pan will do - or leave out the top slice of bread and the oil and use a griller instead).
7. Eat.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 12:52 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


My gluten-intolerant soul weeps.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:55 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


A mash-up of the comments from the "Grown-up Grilled Cheese" link in the FPP and the euphemism of the "And in a family newspaper!" FPP is gigglesworthy. If you're 15 years old. At heart. And I am.

*Just Fran* says:
February 17, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Mmmm. I want to dip that grown-up grilled cheese sandwich into a bowl of tomato soup. Old school style.

Reply
mamastephf says:
February 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Live the dream, girlfriend. :) It would be sooooo good!
Reply

Shea Bullard says:
February 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Yummy. I love Gouda too. I love ramped up grilled cheese sandwiches. I will give a try and soon as my mouth is watering now! :)

etc.
posted by chavenet at 1:28 AM on June 22, 2011


Cheese's dead. Wrapped in plastic.
posted by Pendragon at 1:40 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Neither of my grandfathers cooked much in the kitchen, preferring to stick to washing up duty. However my Australian grandfather would make a grilled cheese sandwich* and my Welsh grandfather would make Welsh rarebit.

*Note. A grilled cheese sandwich is cooked in a grill, not in a frying pan, not in a sandwich toaster and certainly not in a microwave. The clue is in the name.
You will need:

A cooker (preferably gas) with an eye level grill
Light rye bread round loaf
Strong Tasmanian cheddar, sliced
Butter

Cut thin slices from the middle of the loaf, toast one side and remove from grill. Cover the untoasted side of one of the pieces of bread with the sliced cheddar and return to the grill. Butter the toasted side of the other piece of bread. When the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, place the half toasted slice on top, toasted side down and continue to grill until the top side is toasted. Remove from grill and chop in half diagonally. Eat it with salad from the garden
The result of this recipe is a toasted cheese sandwich which is dry on the outside, but saturated with fat and superheated on the inside.
posted by asok at 2:39 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Two slices of bread, preferably Warburton's Toastie.

Two slices of Gouda.

Black pepper.

Cast-iron griddle heated with flat side up, or cast-iron skillet.

NO BUTTER! Otherwise it's a fried sandwich.

Assemble the sandwich and pepper the cheese.

Cook until the bread's golden brown on both sides.

Put it on a plate.

Zap it in the microwave for 10 seconds - no more - to make sure the cheese is fully melted right to the core.

The bread will be crispy and toasty and the cheese will be creamy and melty.
posted by essexjan at 2:39 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Australia, a grilled cheese sandich is a 'cheese toasty'. The more you know!

Actually, it's a Jaffle. "Cheese Toastie", short for "Toasted Cheese Sandwich" is a British thing. Grilled cheese is of course, haloumi, but I'm sure you did at least know that.
posted by GeckoDundee at 3:26 AM on June 22, 2011


restless_nomad: My gluten-intolerant soul weeps.

I'm sure someone will post a recipe involving corn bread or the like. Tortillas are, as a rule, much better than grilled cheese, but sometimes only grilled cheese will do.
posted by GeckoDundee at 3:42 AM on June 22, 2011


Grilled cheese is of course, haloumi, but I'm sure you did at least know that.

Once it's cooked it's 'saganaki'... but you know how it goes: "tomayto, tomato, bugger this anaemic shit just give me some cheese"...
posted by pompomtom at 3:48 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The company’s Web site promises that the Melt will “pinch the bread to form air pockets for the cheese to melt into,” and finish sandwiches with a dusting of parmesan — not Sequoia’s usual area of expertise.

OK, what the hell? I don't know what kind of fancy-pants grilled cheese they're trying to sell, but that's not at all how I remember it working. Cheese, bread, butter and technique. In roughly that order. And New York already had a grilled cheese shop in the Lower East Side, and it closed. Why does this guy think his not-exactly-a-grilled-cheese machine is going to fare any better?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:03 AM on June 22, 2011


In Boston's South Station, they have a fast-food franchise called "Cheeseboy" - I was excited! I love grilled cheese! Cheddar on rye! Fontina and basil and tomato! Wow!

It's terrible. They cook it in an industrial burrito press. The bread is flattened and has no texture, sopping wet with spray-on margarine. They're stingy with their bland cheese, and the basil is wilted and the tomato is wooden.

Grilled cheese needs to be fluffy and crispy and gooey all at once. If you can get that right, then add in quality extras - vine-ripened tomato slices, extra thin; fresh-picked basil, hand shredded; bacon, extra crisp; diced hamsteak, browned just right.

To be honest, I prefer it plain, with fresh-shredded mild cheddar or fontina. My secret to preserving bread texture integrity while still getting a nice crunch is to use a home-made olive-oil/butter spread. Never press down on the sandwich while cooking, and use an extra-wide silicone turner when it comes time to flip it over.

I sometimes use a bread knife to slice it into thick strips, and dunk it into a bowl of tomato soup. Best. Lunch. Ever.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:17 AM on June 22, 2011


You haven't tasted anything good until you put jam on the outside of a grilled cheese sandwich. That may sound like crazy talk, but the sweet and salty combination is heavenly. Everyone scoffs until they try it, and then they never eat one without jam again.
posted by msbrauer at 4:17 AM on June 22, 2011


I was in love with our elementary school lunch lady back in the day. She was doughy and substantial, with a great big boisterous and slightly scratchy laugh, and she doled out awful rectangular pizza squares and lustrous, heavenly grilled cheese (or ham and cheese on my best days) sandwiches made with industrial scale white bread, orange-dyed american cheese that came in two foot long logs, and sweet sweet post-apocalyptic margarine that she, like my grandmother, referred to as "oleo" in that deliciously loopy Anne Arundel county accent you hear around my neck of the woods, where lazy tongues do unforgivable injuries to innocent vowels.

A few times a year, she was recruited to work the line of teachers, substitutes, and ancillary staff set to the task of identify which among us had been beset by lice that month. Fortunately, we were a community of farms, run-down trailer parks, and other lesser professionals, so this was more frequent an inspection than it would have been in the next county over. We'd get all lined up in the great echoing center of our classroom "pod" and hit the reviewing line. I'm a guy who's crazy for a intensive scalp inspection, so I became a connoisseur of probing digits, and it wasn't long before I found that my lunchlady was the best of them all, taking me to a place where my eyes would start to roll back in my head and one leg, doglike, would twitch in sympathy.

Gladys was my first love, in a way. I became increasingly skilled at faking the symptoms of a louse infestation, occasionally triggering a schoolwide inspection in my pursuit of those magical fingertips, and when I was dumped in special education, my embarrassment was largely ameliorated by the fact that we problem children were considered twice as likely to come to school with our scalps crawling with parasites.

"Those little bastards just seem drawn to you," commiserated Glady, smelling of oleo and store brand menthol cigarettes. I started to nod, but curtailed the move so that her fingers, her sweet sweet grilled cheese frying, salisbury steak turning, baked bean doling fingers, would continue their celestial Fred & Ginger routine in the lopsided thicket of stringy hair shaped by my mother's moderate skill with a humming horse trimmer.

"I just seem to be itchy all the time," and I did say "seem to be" because even then, I was a little erudite, back in '76 or so. "I guess I picked 'em up down on Poplar Lane."

Shameless, using poverty to get myself off, but you can't begin to imagine those fingers.

It wasn't like I didn't eat well at home, though. My parents were back-to-the-landers, albeit disguised with normal clothes instead of the hippie nightmare textiles favored by the little group sex group house up the street, and we ate from our own garden, an immense patch larger than most of my friends' yards, had eggs from our own clutch of hens, and bought beef by the side from the steer farm across the street. My mother's conviction was that white bread, red dye #40, and granulated sugar were evil things, and she took great delight in Dan White's defense, which she regarded as a proof that letting us eat a sandwich on white bread would end with us shooting the mayor of San Francisco.

A grilled cheese at home was a curiously rich thing. Two rounds of Columbia Union sprouted wheat bread (a hearty natural thing produced in the local Seventh Day Adventist college), a mixture of Emmentaler and Munster cheese, and a spritz of alfalfa sprouts my mom grew in jars under the sink, all fried in sweet cream butter from the dairy collective at the bottom of the hill, served up with a dollop of coarse, seeded mustard for dipping on the side of the plate. Now, I find that a lovely option, but then, it was a lesser thing, a coarse, complicated, excessively flavorful thing meant for European farmers, not the future scientists of 1977, so I'd manage to leave my Space:1999 lunch box at home and buy the cafeteria lunch instead, pushing my tray down the stainless steel track and breathing lusty, interrupted breaths as Gladys would pull the next round of sandwiches off the grill.

"Your vegetable, baby?"

"Corn, ma'am."

"There you go, babydoll."

"Thank you, ma'am."

In those days, I did not generally say "ma'am," but you have to reward your lovers for their precise attention. I started to push my tray down the line, but paused long enough to dramatically scratch my head. She was looking to the side, so I waited and did it again, tossing my oily hair in what I hoped was a coquettish, parasitical sort of flourish.

Notice me, Gladys. Notice me. I need your touch. I'm very, very itchy.

Those days, they torment me now.

In my adult life, a loaf of store brand white bread in the fridge is a clear sign that something's going on, whether it's a deep blue funk, a nagging fear of uncertainty, or one more visit to the well of lost love, but it works. I bought myself one of those wire octopus things that they used to sell in the mall, the head massagers that look for all the world like itching yourself with a tangle of coathangers on a doorknob, but it's just not the same. Even with a lit menthol festering away in a plaid beanbag ashtray with a turquoise anodized aluminum insert, it's not quite there. Some things leave us, and the shadows are all that's left, but we hang on, especially in the tough times.

I fire up the French spring steel crepe pan that I have not washed with soap since 1989, prepare my ingredients, all products of the best industrial engineering for large scale eating, and let fry, and for one brief shiny moment, standing over the stove with crumbs falling, I can adjust the clock, spinning time backwards to that instant of idiot calm when the whole lunchroom would just...fade...and it would be me and margarine and the heroin calm of that texture-free cheese food product suspended in a matrix of foamy, crispy, oleo-saturated golden brown loveliness.

I turn out a second sandwich for my visiting ex, and he munches it while the dogs watch us like all religious fanatics, hoping to knock those sandwiches out of our hands with the force of will. I absently scratch my head, with a certain hopeless air.

"I think I have a tick," I say, and it gets me a quick bristly check, something that lost its hair-pulling satisfaction when I started cutting my hair to suit a motorcycle helmet.

"I don't see anything," he says, and then his eyes narrow, looking at the sandwich I'm holding, then back at me. "Ugh, you're in one of those moods again, aren't you?"

"Yeah. Fuck it, though."

I start another sandwich, and listen for the low, slow grinding of the world coming to a halt on its eternal, rusty axis, which sounds a lot like a billion sandwiches all frying out at once, all over the world.

And here's that calm again.
posted by sonascope at 4:20 AM on June 22, 2011 [28 favorites]


Previously (with accompanying MeTa)
posted by TedW at 4:24 AM on June 22, 2011


allow me to present the greatest grilled cheese of all time:

- whatever bread you have, who even cares, it's bread ffs (last time i made this i used a stale end slice of wheat bread and a leftover piece of rosemary foccacia and it was fucking ambrosial)
- fat slices of provolone, glorious delightful provolone, king of all cheeses
- a handful of arugula
- chiffonade a bunch of radicchio
- mandoline thin slices of huge lumpy heirloom tomato
- olive oil salt pepper

cheese on one side, tomato on the other, salad in the middle, olive oil salt pepper all over that shit. stick it in some sort of paninifying device until the cheese oozes out all creamy bubbly and the bread is all golden toasty. cram it all into your face like a crazed toddler with a fistful of pie. repeat until death.
posted by elizardbits at 4:27 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


pompomtom: Once it's cooked it's 'saganaki'

Even after many years of eating Greek food, I didn't know that (or notice it, anyway). Thanks.
posted by GeckoDundee at 4:30 AM on June 22, 2011


Pumpernickel. Sliced 2 inches thick and soooo soft where it's not all crispy from frying.
Extra sharp cheddar, like a half pound. Melted to goo. That's all.
posted by carsonb at 4:56 AM on June 22, 2011


My wife's on a long trip away from home. I'm favoriting this thread so she can feast when she gets home. So much.
posted by Plutor at 5:12 AM on June 22, 2011


I don't get the gourmet-ification of working class comfort foods. A grilled cheese as I grew up with is American cheese on store-brand white bread, sizzled in margarine in a skillet. If you had bacon left over from breakfast, you might put some of that on it. If it's late summer and you have garden tomatoes coming out of your ears, you might put a slice of tomato on it. Serve with iced tea and dill pickle spears in the summer, or a bowl of Campbell's cream of tomato soup in the winter.

Why would you want to change any of that?
posted by aught at 5:16 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's a sign of something when grilled cheese has a "next level" but I haven't had enough coffee yet to tell what it is.
posted by tommasz at 5:21 AM on June 22, 2011


Why would you want to change any of that?

Because you're not American? No, silliness, that couldn't be it.
posted by pompomtom at 5:21 AM on June 22, 2011


You can eat comfort food and eat something made with better ingredients. You can actually eat them at the same time. Take a bite of one, take a bite of the other. No class warfare required.
posted by stavrogin at 5:47 AM on June 22, 2011


My favorite version is the inside and outside grilled cheese!
posted by sneakyalien at 5:53 AM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


We've got to over 55 comments and no one has actually mentioned any real cheese yet.

Come to the UK and have proper cheese on toast (thick sliced white bread, almost any variety of real, hard cheese (not 'cheese-flavored product' slices, or 'Swiss' or 'Provolone' or any other cheese designed to sound foreign and interesting yet - curiously! - only available in the USA), and a splash of Henderson's Relish (or Worcester Sauce if you happen to be that way inclined)) and experience true cheesy Nirvana.
posted by metaxa at 6:01 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cheddar is a pre sliced fake cheese product with a foreign sounding name?
posted by nathancaswell at 6:05 AM on June 22, 2011


The same cheddar that originated in Somerset?
posted by nathancaswell at 6:08 AM on June 22, 2011


I dunno metaxa, the last time I tried to buy cheese at a cheese shop in the UK I found their selection rather lacking. I mean, they didn't even sell cheddar. The live music was charming though.
posted by MrFTBN at 6:09 AM on June 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


And constitutes 51 percent of the uk cheese market?
posted by nathancaswell at 6:11 AM on June 22, 2011


Not only have real cheeses been mentioned, but Welsh Rarebit has been invoked, though admittedly no preference was expressed for which anchovy based sauce to use.

Alton Brown's Welsh Rarebit recipe.
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:11 AM on June 22, 2011


nathancaswell: The-American-cheese-known-as-'cheddar' != Cheddar cheese, made in Cheddar, Somerset
posted by metaxa at 6:12 AM on June 22, 2011


Since reading this I have wanted to have or attend a grilled cheese party.
posted by pointystick at 6:20 AM on June 22, 2011


"Cheddar" doesn't seem to have the protection that French cheeses (like their wines) have. It seems to mean "generic orange stirred curd cheese" and anybody who makes one can call it "Cheddar".

Now that I discover Henderson's is anchovy free, I seem to be 0 for 2 in accuracy. (On the plus side, I've discovered a vegan alternative to Lee & Perrins.)
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:22 AM on June 22, 2011


'American Cheese' should be standing for trial in The Hague.
posted by fordiebianco at 6:28 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Newsflash: there is shitty processed, bright orange cheddar and delicious, artisan cheddar and we have them both in the United States. Shocking, I know. But carry on assuming everyone in this thread has a palette which doesn't match yours, honed to a razor's edge by years of delicate sampling of internationally renowned British Cuisine.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:31 AM on June 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


Notwithstanding all the arguments against processed cheese, sometimes only a pack of those orange, plastic-wrapped slices will do. Slight derail from the toasted cheese sandwich debate, but the best mac'n'cheese sauce ever is made from melting down 10 or 12 slices of cheese slices (the cheaper the better, even the 'value' range in the supermarket) with a cup of milk, and adding some industrial-grade Parmesan at the end. Make sure, though, when you're preparing the sauce that you save at least a one-inch strip of cheese from the slices as a treat for your cat. If you forget to do this, you'll die a horrible, unexpected, death in your sleep.
posted by essexjan at 6:37 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


No need to be a douchebag, nathancaswell.

We have hamburgers over here too, but - you know - they're not so good. Not as good as your average In N Out burger, f'sure.

Cheese is something you guys just don't do so well, I'm sorry about that.
posted by metaxa at 6:39 AM on June 22, 2011


What my mom called 'grilled cheese' was sliced cheddar on a bun, put under the broiler. I came to learn later in life that this sandwich was in fact a variation on the British 'cheese toasty', and nowhere near as good as the butter-drenched grilled cheese of diner fame. This is one of a long list of grievances that I will address with my mother at some future date.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:56 AM on June 22, 2011


George Duran in his seried Ham on the Street posited that you could make a great grilled cheese by picking at random a good bread, a good cheese, and a good jelly/jam.

If you've ever had brie slathered in apricot jam, wrapped in puff pastry and baked - then you know that he's on the right track.
posted by plinth at 7:02 AM on June 22, 2011


metaxa: "Cheese is something you guys just don't do so well, I'm sorry about that."

Well, gee golly gosh, America is a pretty big place. Are you sure? I thought I'd had some pretty good (ju7st for example) American cheeses, but I guess a posh overseas-type would laugh at my simplicity.

Historically, American cheeses have been poor, but there has always been good cheese to be had. And now more than ever, it's a large movement with a lot of great cheese. And yes, we can do raw cheeses, although not with quite as much freedom. And yes, it competes internationally.
posted by gilrain at 7:10 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


No need to be a douchebag, nathancaswell.
posted by metaxa


Pot, meet kettle.
posted by grouse at 7:14 AM on June 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


I remember finding half of these links during one sleepless night in college. Out of fustration towards my lack of sleep, I did an extensive google search for "grilled cheese sandwich". I, to this day, have no idea why I did that.
posted by Evernix at 7:15 AM on June 22, 2011


We don't have anything called American Cheese in Canada, but wikipedia tells me that American Cheese is essentially what we call "Kraft singles" or "plastic cheese." Is that true, or am I missing something?
posted by arcticwoman at 7:18 AM on June 22, 2011


You can get into Per Se faster than you can get into Melt. And for good reason!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:24 AM on June 22, 2011


arcticwoman: "We don't have anything called American Cheese in Canada, but wikipedia tells me that American Cheese is essentially what we call "Kraft singles" or "plastic cheese." Is that true, or am I missing something?"

That is true. The name comes from when colonial America was making poor quality "cheddar" and shipping it back to the UK. It wasn't fake cheese like the modern version, but it was milder and of poorer quality. To distinguish it from real cheddar in the UK, they sold it as "American cheese." The name stuck and, in America, a taste was developed for this milder, poorer product. In essence, Kraft singles is an artificial artifact of that.

Obviously, American cheese is now a huge field with both excellent and poor cheeses.
posted by gilrain at 7:27 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


(And the modern fake product is not without its uses and fervent admirers! For instance, many hamburger connoisseurs, including well-informed and respected food critics, feel that its mild flavor and melting characteristics make it ideal and indispensable for a cheeseburger.)
posted by gilrain at 7:30 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


But I don't know that I've ever met a grilled cheese sandwich that wasn't in some way delicious.

I would have said this until I had the grilled cheese at the restaurant at the infamous South Of The Border in South Carolina (was there with friends on a photo expedition). Their grilled cheese was made with the worst limp-styrofoam white bread, one rubbery slice of disgusting 'American' cheese, and a microscopic amount of butter on the outside of the bread, so that it was basically dry. Not even worth eating.

Give me a tasty bread with a mix of sharp and mild cheeses, a couple slices of vine-ripe red tomato, griddled with a generous amount of butter and perfectly golden brown.
posted by statolith at 7:32 AM on June 22, 2011


'Provolone' or any other cheese designed to sound foreign and interesting yet - curiously! - only available in the USA

I am not sure what universe you live in that doesn't have Italian-made provolone piccante but it sounds like a terrible place and I am glad I don't live there.
posted by elizardbits at 7:37 AM on June 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


fat slices of provolone, glorious delightful provolone, king of all cheeses

You have got to be fucking kidding me. Provolone? One of the blandest, least-flavorful cheese ever created? I mean, the dayglo-orange hydrogenized Cheeze Product that comes in aerosol cans has more flavor than provolone.

Not to mention provolone melts like suck, all oil-separating and shit. Fuck that.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:25 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You have got to be fucking kidding me. Provolone? One of the blandest, least-flavorful cheese ever created?

Ugh, once again there are shitty, sliced, deli provolones, and nice provolones. Good cheese can be found in America.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:33 AM on June 22, 2011


i slap you with my cheese-filled internets glove and demand satisfaction!
posted by elizardbits at 8:35 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


We have some damn fine cheeses in America. Heck, even here in Georgia we have some fabulous cheese.
posted by pointystick at 8:40 AM on June 22, 2011


msbrauer: "You haven't tasted anything good until you put jam on the outside of a grilled cheese sandwich. That may sound like crazy talk, but the sweet and salty combination is heavenly. Everyone scoffs until they try it, and then they never eat one without jam again."

No.

First rule of Taste Buds is: YOU DO NOT MIX SWEET AND SAVORY.
Second rule of Taste Buds is: YOU DO NOT MIX SWEET AND SAVORY.
posted by symbioid at 8:42 AM on June 22, 2011


Good cheese can be found in America.

Maybe it's just me - though I do seek out and eat a fair amount of good quality cheese, and thought I knew a little bit about it - but my experience has been when you melt/grill a good cheese in a sandwich, you lose much or most of the goodness of the taste. I guess this is one of the reasons why I tend to prefer the old standbys of American cheese (yes, sorry arcticwoman, Kraft singles or even better Land o' Lakes pre-sliced is the sort of thing I was talking about) on grilled-cheese sandwiches. I've found that anything I would put on a deli meat sandwich, like medium-sharp cheddar, provolone, muenster, or gouda, are just wasted on a grilled-cheese sandwich because they lose most of their distinctive quality. (Maybe I have been doing something wrong all these decades.)
posted by aught at 8:42 AM on June 22, 2011


First rule of Taste Buds is: YOU DO NOT MIX SWEET AND SAVORY.
Second rule of Taste Buds is: YOU DO NOT MIX SWEET AND SAVORY.


Symbioid, meet Thai food. Thai food, meet symbioid.
posted by aught at 8:43 AM on June 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


First rule of Taste Buds is: YOU DO NOT MIX SWEET AND SAVORY.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. As my friend Nikol's roasted turkey + brie + cherry jalapeno jam sandwiches will attest.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:44 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even more generally, if you like to brown your meat, it's because you like mixing sweet and savory. So.
posted by gilrain at 8:50 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whatever cheese you like. I prefer medium cheddar (or even sharp for this) or colby. Colby jack starts to get into meh, but still ok. American or Velveeta are never inappropriate.

Tomato optional. Sometimes I'm in the mood.

Whatever bread you like. I prefer sourdough.

Must be real butter. Not even the half-canola "spreadable" stuff. This is the only part I will snob out on.

For extra goodness, lightly dust the buttery sides with garlic powder before cooking.

For my own (admittedly American) palate, Tillamook medium cheddar is a slice of heaven. Literally, a slice. Or a block. (If you have a chance, visit the Tillamook County Creamery Association. Yum.)
posted by no relation at 9:19 AM on June 22, 2011


Good Eats Grilled Cheese
posted by and for no one at 9:22 AM on June 22, 2011


I dislike being attacked purely because of my taste in fine cheeses. This really isn't on! OH NOES, this person is from little old England, he must know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Get a grip.

Of course, everywhere there will be pockets of greatness, and a dairy somewhere in Bumblefuck, MI might make the greatest cheese in the world. I'm sure somewhere in the UK, there's a cafe that sells the most amazing hamburgers, ground from the finest Aberdeen Angus steak and blended with fine herbs and spices. This doesn't mean that the UK is the best place in the world to have a burger. These are the anomalies. These are the outliers.

99% of the commenters here who've suggested 'use cheddar' or 'use provolone' are talking about your basic, off-the-shelf, found-at-every-Walmart cheese. They're not talking about some mail-order, specialist, cheese found on the internet. The point I was illustrating was that - really, truly, and honestly - America, generally, doesn't 'do' real, proper cheese.

Walk into any UK supermarket and you'll be presented with several fridges FULL of hundreds of varieties of cheese - many variants of Stiltons, Bries, Cheddars, soft cheeses, hard cheeses and goats & sheeps cheese and hundreds others besides - there might even be some Kraft slices in there. In a typical US supermarket, there's five million cans of Easy-cheese, a dozen varieties of pre-packed, pre-sliced Monterey Jack and Provolone and rafts of processed cheese slices. It doesn't compare.

This wasn't a pissing contest, it was just a throwaway remark - that as feel-good and comforting a good old cheese sandwich is, that the crap you put between the bread really is much, much better elsewhere. If that upsets you, and it clearly has a few, then well, I am sorry - but I'm not taking abuse based on that. Go figure.
posted by metaxa at 9:29 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


It wasn't at all clear that you were talking about the general availability of good cheese in the average American supermarket. You seemed to be more generally lambasting America as both ignorant and devoid of good cheese, which is why you got a huge backlash.

(Amusingly, you defend against "British = doesn't know good food" in response to criticism you got from "American = doesn't know good cheese".)

It's true that, outside of major cities, you generally need to go to a specialty market to find great cheeses in the US.
posted by gilrain at 9:36 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


99% of the commenters here who've suggested 'use cheddar' or 'use provolone' are talking about your basic, off-the-shelf, found-at-every-Walmart cheese.

Ok.

rtha, MrFTBN, nasreddin, auto-correct, asok, Slap*Happy, carsonb, and no relation... you were the cheddar advocates. Were you talking about "Walmart cheese"?

Lets see how these percentages shake out.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:53 AM on June 22, 2011


For what it's worth, on the provolone front, the Amish in my area make a terrific smoked provolone that's the semi-secret special ingredient in my kickass goetta. In general, the Amish do wonderful earthy cheeses, with lots of eclectic variations (horseradish cheddars to die for), and German-American farm cheeses that make my Baltimore smearcase cake (yes, that's how we spell it in Maryland, as we're a slurry lot) a thing of divine wonder (if I do say so myself).
posted by sonascope at 10:22 AM on June 22, 2011


Alternating cheddar with strips of jalapeno jack isn't afraid of anything.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:28 AM on June 22, 2011


99% of the commenters here who've suggested 'use cheddar' or 'use provolone' are talking about your basic, off-the-shelf, found-at-every-Walmart cheese.

The only place on earth I have ever even been inside a WalMart was in Beijing (because apparently there is nowhere else to get tampax, who knew), so idefk what you are on about.

I will let you get back to your axe-grinding now while I enjoy an awesome sammich.
posted by elizardbits at 10:46 AM on June 22, 2011


Were you talking about "Walmart cheese"?

Good lord, no. But I may be something of an outlier: I'm a Yankee (why, yes, I *would* like some Vermont Cheddar with my apple pie, thank you!), I've lived in France, and for two-ish years I worked in the cheese department at Whole Foods.

So, my go-to "normal" Cheddar is a white Cheddar that's been aged a couple of years and is kind of crumbly. It can be Cabot, or Grafton. There's some kind whose name I've forgotten that's also good, but a couple of bucks per pound less expensive - that is, it's $9 or $10 per pound instead of $12. I am something of a cheese snob - certainly when I am the one making the grilled cheese sandwich. But if I turned up at your house and you were making grilled cheese with Wonderbread and plastic-wrapped cheese slices, I would be delighted to eat them (please do remove the plastic wrap first!), because they are good in their own way, and anyway, food that someone makes for you always has a special flavor.

Maybe it's just because of where I've lived - Boston and DC and now San Francisco - but even our regular grocery stores like Safeway and Giant have decent "imported" cheese sections where you can get brie and things like that. And now that I live in San Francisco, I am totally spoiled for choice when it comes to artisanal cheeses.
posted by rtha at 10:52 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm fairly certain metaxa's head would explode if presented with a photo of the cheese area in my local supermarket -- and I'm out in the wastelands of the midwest, not New York or LA or Boston or even Chicago. Good cheese is good cheese.

(Oh, and let's not get started on the Market -- I'm talking ordinary, do-the-weekly-big-shop supermarket).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:00 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and it's not exactly Bumblefuck, MI, but Shepherd's Way Farms in Minnesota makes an outstanding blue sheep's milk cheese called Big Woods Blue. We had it here in San Francisco last week.
posted by rtha at 11:03 AM on June 22, 2011


When I moved back from Austria, my parents hung a sign on the garage that read in German, roughly translated, "Welcome home, Cheese Queen."
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:09 AM on June 22, 2011


My parents got me a container of Parmesan as a welcome-home-from-summer-camp present once.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:14 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


metaxa: “In a typical US supermarket, there's five million cans of Easy-cheese, a dozen varieties of pre-packed, pre-sliced Monterey Jack and Provolone and rafts of processed cheese slices. It doesn't compare.”

I get the feeling you haven't been to a US supermarket in a while. This might have been true even ten years ago, but it is certainly not true today. I was at the supermarket the other day, and aside from the Tillamook Cheddar I bought (which, pardon me, happens to be very good) they had at least several hundred other varieties, real varieties, such as Gouda, Provolone (actual Provolone, imported and otherwise), Mozzarella (in a tub, a ball of yummy goodness that's still soft and moist, not this low-moisture crap), and many others. There's a brand of Irish cheddar that seems popular nowadays in the supermarkets, "Dubliner," which I've had; it's pretty good. (And yes, it is from Ireland.) They had all this and much, much more.

Oh, and the supermarket I was at? It was Walmart. This is true for pretty much any supermarket in the US now. Things have changed.
posted by koeselitz at 11:38 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Also, one should note that I've met Frenchmen who say precisely the same thing about the UK: "you can't get ACTUAL cheese there; it's all fake crap." So, well – it all seems to be a bit relative.)
posted by koeselitz at 11:40 AM on June 22, 2011


you were the cheddar advocates. Were you talking about "Walmart cheese"?


In my case, I was. You lose a lot of subtlety when the cheese melts - so you need a melting cheese, not a refined and complex tasting cheese. Something that maintains an even texture and consistency, and won't separate into an oily, crumbly mess (this is why fondue and rarebit has starch and beer (or wine) added, and not just a big pile of melted cheeses). Process cheddar works very well for this - velveeta and "american cheese" have too many nasty, chemical flavors to work well.

Cabbot's mild cheddar works pretty well, and I shred it fresh. It's a step up in quality over Cracker Barrel and the like, but still widely available.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:21 PM on June 22, 2011


True story: I had my first grilled cheese sandwich in YEARS today for lunch, because of this post.
posted by schmod at 12:49 PM on June 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


I had my first grilled cheese sandwich in YEARS today for lunch, because of this post.

It's comments like this that make me proud to be a MeFite.
posted by grouse at 3:02 PM on June 22, 2011


True story: I had my first grilled cheese sandwich in YEARS today for lunch, because of this post.

Sweet.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:13 PM on June 22, 2011


I'm surprised that I'm getting so much joy from this (utterly non-euphemistically-oral-sex-oriented) grilled cheese pr0n.

I go with bacon, thin tomatoe slices, fresh basil, two kinds of sliced cheese chosen by impulse, and mayo on the outside.

J.Gaffigan's creepy whisper: "Make it for meeehhhhh"
posted by herbplarfegan at 3:14 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


This wasn't a pissing contest, it was just a throwaway remark - that as feel-good and comforting a good old cheese sandwich is, that the crap you put between the bread really is much, much better elsewhere. If that upsets you, and it clearly has a few, then well, I am sorry - but I'm not taking abuse based on that. Go figure.

It turned into a pissing contest when you started using absolute words like "We've got to over 55 comments and no one has actually mentioned any real cheese yet.", and, well the above quote that uses words like "crap". You're the one dishing out unsubstantiated abuse, not us.

Trust me. America has real cheese. Yes, that includes a proper cheddar or even a Stilton. My nearest grocery store has one tiny shelf for velveeta and cheese in a box. It has an entire case for good cheese, and then an entire refrigerated row for "plain old cheese" that includes perfectly edible, good cheese like Tillamook's sharp cheddar.

And this is in just a basic grocery store. For the record, the two next nearest stores after that is a Whole Foods (with a real cheesemonger!) and a place called "Metropolitan Market" that's like Whole Foods for real yuppies. It has a cheese case bigger than my apartment - and again, that's just the "specialty cheese" case, not the everyday stuff like loaves of Tillamook or pre-shredded mozarella.

But you can hang on to your provincial attitude that only real cheddar is made in the UK. I hope it makes your cheese taste better.
posted by loquacious at 4:19 PM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


We call it a gorilla cheese sandwich in our house.
posted by Daddy-O at 7:15 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


two words on american cheeses for anyone whos been to the bay area: humboldt fucking fog!!!!
posted by supermedusa at 7:16 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Daddy-O my sisters and I always called them "girl cheese sandwiches"
posted by supermedusa at 7:17 PM on June 22, 2011


which sounds...disturbing now. I KNOW!! but to us it was just a way of staking claim to our fav lunch time meal
posted by supermedusa at 7:18 PM on June 22, 2011


supermedusa: "two words on american cheeses for anyone whos been to the bay area: humboldt fucking fog!!!!"

Wow, that cheese has a lot of awards... but I can't help but point out one in particular:

Gold, London International Cheese Competition, 2004
posted by gilrain at 8:03 PM on June 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD_zy1BpfP0&feature=related - gwilled cheez'
posted by root beer tastes like fire ants smell at 10:18 PM on June 22, 2011


clickable youtube link for above
posted by mecran01 at 9:45 PM on June 25, 2011


Walk into any UK supermarket and you'll be presented with several fridges FULL of hundreds of varieties of cheese - many variants of Stiltons, Bries, Cheddars, soft cheeses, hard cheeses and goats & sheeps cheese and hundreds others besides - there might even be some Kraft slices in there. In a typical US supermarket, there's five million cans of Easy-cheese, a dozen varieties of pre-packed, pre-sliced Monterey Jack and Provolone and rafts of processed cheese slices. It doesn't compare.
I refute you thus:

My parents live in Central Pennsylvania. It is rural. The local Fancy Restaurant is a Cracker Barrel.

They have a Wegman's about five miles away. And their local Giant (the Typical US Supermarket) has a well-stocked cheese section, right next to the four aisles of organics. When I was there last, I discovered that they stocked several cheeses from my local stomping grounds, the San Francisco Bay Area, along with some imports. Alongside the locally produced offerings.

This is the Giant, mind, not the Wegman's, which stocked damn near everything.

Then there's this: Safeway goes natural to avoid becoming 'roadkill'" (about how Safeway is going for broke with natural foods, because they're getting shellacked by Whole Foods and, wait for it, Wal-Mart).

Wal-Mart is having considerable success with organics. I believe Wal-Mart fits your definition of Typical Supermarket, yes?

What this all boils down to is: That's resulting in more and more artisanal offerings in the Typical Supermarket. Where you can find sliced Monterey Jack and Provolone and Easy Cheese, yes...but where you are also now very likely to find a locally crafted cheese, made from locally sourced milk.

I welcome your explanation of how local artisanal producers in the United States are somehow different and inferior to local artisanal producers in the UK. Because, as nearly as I can tell, there's no difference at all.

But, then, I'm American, so you'll have to allow for my basic tastelessness.
posted by scrump at 3:32 PM on June 28, 2011


Also, SF Bay Area locals who don't already know about Cowgirl Creamery (they're in the Ferry Building on weekends!), Milk Pail Market (in Mountain View) and The Cheese Shop in Carmel (worth the trip, I swear to you)? Now you do.
posted by scrump at 3:38 PM on June 28, 2011


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