How To Make The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich
November 5, 2014 1:57 PM   Subscribe

How to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. (SLGuardian)

Bonus: annoying slideshow of the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the U.S.
posted by turbid dahlia (90 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh my god, those PHOTOS. There's a grilled cheese restaurant a few blocks from where I work, I wonder if I can hold off the cheese-lust until lunchtime tomorrow.

Also, I can't be the only one who went a little cross-eyed at Ghetto Grillz (who source their bread from an artisan baker in Northumberland)
posted by troika at 2:09 PM on November 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Annoying slideshow, deslidified.

In my experience, the perfect grilled cheese is butter, sourdough, and Beecher's. TJ's Roasted Red Pepper Tomato soup on the side.
posted by Tevin at 2:11 PM on November 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


the perfect grilled cheese is made by someone else.
posted by The Whelk at 2:12 PM on November 5, 2014 [24 favorites]


I'm still working to perfect a keto grilled cheese, but the almond meal bread I make is a little too cake-like and it never quite works.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:16 PM on November 5, 2014


Croque Monsieur you ruffians.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:17 PM on November 5, 2014 [11 favorites]


tl;dr fancy bread, fancy cheese, fancy sides, EFFORT.

This is all you need to know: thoroughly butter the outside of the bread (use whatever bread you have, who are you making this for, the queen?) before placing onto the hot pan. Use combination of sliced American processed cheese food and pre-shredded cheddar. If you have time to shred a block of cheese why are you making a grilled cheese sandwich. Go roast a duck if the idea of American or pre-shredded cheese bothers you, Jacques Pépin. Serve with tomato soup, jar of pickles from back of fridge, or half-eaten bag of stale Lay's.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:17 PM on November 5, 2014 [38 favorites]


Also, I can't be the only one who went a little cross-eyed at Ghetto Grillz (who source their bread from an artisan baker in Northumberland)

Ha! The very first thing I did after reading this article a few minutes ago was to ridicule that very sentence on Twitter. It pretty much sums up where a certain aspect of anglophone food culture is at this point in history.

I still enjoyed the article; I'm definitely more part of the problem (such as it is) than I am part of the solution.
posted by howfar at 2:18 PM on November 5, 2014


Grilled cheese with store-brand white bread, Kraft singles, and margarine was one of the first things my brother and I could cook for ourselves.
posted by sevenless at 2:19 PM on November 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Grilled cheese with store-brand white bread, Kraft singles, and margarine was one of the first things my brother and I could cook for ourselves.

I fondly remember the first time my mom made one for me using yellow AND white singles. Blew my tiny mind (it was fucking fantastic, too).
posted by troika at 2:21 PM on November 5, 2014


Perfect! Dinner tonight is already planned to be grilled cheese (thin slice of Tillamook Vintage Extra Sharp White Cheddar, thin slice of Tillamook Pepper Jack, and a little sprinkle of blue cheese crumbles) and Pacific organic Creamy Tomato soup.
posted by jgaiser at 2:23 PM on November 5, 2014


(SLGuardian)
And in a family newspaper!!
posted by unliteral at 2:25 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've had grilled cheese sandwiches all across this country, and I can tell you that hands down my favorite is the one at The Rue De L'Espoir in Providence, RI. It's not even given any prominence on the menu, but when I had to travel to Newport I'd drive the 40-odd miles to the Rue at least once for the grilled cheese and it was worth it every time.
posted by Runes at 2:25 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


The proper way to butter the bread is to melt the butter in your warm pan and allow the bread to soak up the butter. This ensures the butter gets in all the crannies to give you max crispiness and doesn't mush your bread.

This gets overlooked but, I believe, is critical.
posted by Tevin at 2:27 PM on November 5, 2014 [12 favorites]


To truly understand the Special Relationship (Churchill - "Two sandwiches divided by a common language") you have to learn and appreciate the cheese sandwich divide.

Both sides have something to offer, but man we have different ideas about a cheese sandwich. And, apparently, what constitutes "cheese". Brits win here.

The same applies to bacon/the idea of a BLT. America wins here.

None of this applies to baked potatoes, where the idea of shovelling corn, baked beans, and all kinds of other shit on top of a potato seems to have taken root here in Britain as a full meal.
posted by C.A.S. at 2:27 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's all about getting some sodium citrate so you can make your own smoothly melting "engineered cheese" slices with whatever kind of cheese you want.
posted by slkinsey at 2:29 PM on November 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh please. Baked potatoes area loaded with butter, sour cream, cheese, and chives. You don't want a single fragment of crumbly disgusting mealy potato-starch that isn't coated in something delicious.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:30 PM on November 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


(Not sure how old that Food & Wine slide show is, but the first slide features Grahamwich from Chicago, which closed in 2013.)
posted by dnash at 2:31 PM on November 5, 2014


(I guess it's pretty old, I just wanted to provide people with more delicious photos of grilled cheese)
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:32 PM on November 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Grilled Cheese Truck
posted by infinitewindow at 2:32 PM on November 5, 2014


R.I.P. Government Cheese.

You were the best sandwich cheese.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:36 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Watch a Grown Man Defend His $10 Mil Grilled Cheese Startup Investment. Not just any grown man either, Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital, a top tier VC firm better known for investments in tech companies like Google, PayPal, and WhatsApp.

The funny thing is The Melt makes a pretty shitty grilled cheese sandwich. Primary sin is nowhere near enough butter on the bread.
posted by Nelson at 2:42 PM on November 5, 2014


Melting the butter in the pan a little bit really does make all the difference.

Also, watching snow fall while eating it makes it taste better. IMHO.
posted by sio42 at 2:42 PM on November 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


And here is how to make the perfect tomato soup:

Slice an onion -- doesn't matter how, you're going to blend it. Saute that onion in a couple tablespoons of butter. Add crushed red pepper if you like a little spice. Dump in a can of whole tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes or so, maybe 15, mashing on those tomatoes every once in a while so that they start to break down. At this point, put the very hot soup into a blender, remind yourself that you're not supposed to put very hot soups in blenders, and then take all precautions one should take after putting a very hot soup into a blender. (Vent the lid, cover with a dish towel, and be careful.) Blend the soup until smooth. Pour through a strainer (don't skip this step) back into the pot. Bring to a boil. Salt to taste. Dip gooey grilled cheese into soup.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:45 PM on November 5, 2014 [14 favorites]


okay so the only use for American Kraft Single Extruded Dairy By-Product is more making the best open-faced grilled cheese on rye (the darkest, most seedy rye you can find) - unlike all other cheese on the planet is bubbles UP rather than out, so it doesn't make a mess in your toaster oven.
posted by The Whelk at 2:51 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


First, roast a head of garlic in the oven. Then make bread dough and knead the whole cloves into the dough. Bake the bread in a loaf pan and set aside to cool.

Take butter out of the fridge and set it on the counter to warm to room temperature.

Put a cast-iron frying pan on a gas stove and warm it up over a low flame.

Slice the bread, butter both slices. Put one slice down in the frying pan and fill with a mixture of cheeses, sliced thin. Cheddar for sharpness, monterey jack or mozzarella for meltiness, pepper jack for spice. Put the top slice of bread on, cover the frying pan, and leave it alone for a while.

Check the sandwich: is the cheese melted enough to hold the slices together? If so, flip the sandwich, keep it on low.

When both sides are nicely brown, turn off the stove, cut in two, and eat.

NOM. Roasted garlic grilled cheese is the best.
posted by suelac at 3:06 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Great fancy version:

Challah, buttered on the outside + sharp white cheddar + roasted pears + bacon

In panini press until done, served with spicy ketchup (make your own if you're a masochist; stir sriracha into ketchup otherwise).

What I actually make at home when The Craving hits: bread buttered on the outside, whatever I have. Extruded Cheese Slices. Steel pan, low heat, cook slowly.

The best grilled cheese is the one you are eating.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:16 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've been putting parmesan on the outside of my grilled cheese for years—just a small amount when the bread is nearly done, fried for about 30 seconds per side for a sharp, smoky crust—so it's nice to see others recommend it as well.
posted by Woodroar at 3:24 PM on November 5, 2014


I have already made the best grilled cheese sandwich. I did it last week, on accident, when trying to use up some to-me mysterious cheese in the fridge (I'm in a new country and still learning the language so I had no idea what kind of cheese it was). The only thing I know about the bread was it had no soy protein in it (annoyingly a problem to find in the US these days).

The pan-- was not a frying pan. I am living in a temporary apartment and all I could find at all suitable was a big pot-- at least the bottom was big enough for the bread to lie flat. The stove was on who-the-fuck-knows what temperature, and I had to open the window to prevent the place filling up with smoke.

But the sandwich? Oh, it was divine.
posted by nat at 3:27 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


infinitewindow: "Grilled Cheese Truck"

And Portland's Grilled Cheese Grill
posted by jgaiser at 3:28 PM on November 5, 2014


There are at least two grilled cheese only places within about ten minutes of me, and I can think of another... four in the city offhand. Grilled cheese is the new cupcake, or whatever was trendy last.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:31 PM on November 5, 2014


Grilled Cheese fever hit here a While back, now we're in The waning days of the Meatball craze and some horribke mutant savory muffin fad. .
posted by The Whelk at 3:34 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, sadly, unilateral, I think the comments from that article may be gone now. I couldn't get them to load, and it makes me sad. (The mefi response still is around, of course).
posted by nat at 3:35 PM on November 5, 2014


The best grilled cheese is all grilled cheese. It would be harder to have a bad one.
posted by winna at 3:39 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


mudpuppie, if you want to take that recipe to the next level:

Roast fresh tomatoes, roast the onions too (maybe with a couple cloves of garlic), then work from there. Adding some canned chipotle is pretty awesome too. Smoky and spicy and nom. (Place where I used to work I did a special of roasted tomato soup served with little baby grilled cheese sandwiches with avocado on ciabatta).
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:40 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Do you use a food mill to purée the tomatoes after you roast them?
posted by winna at 3:49 PM on November 5, 2014


My dinner is still at least three hours away and I had to work through lunch. This is a deeply unkind FPP.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:50 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nah, blender & strainer. More efficient than a food mill. Garnished with a little swirl of sour cream infused with lime zest and a little salsa of black beans and grilled corn.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:51 PM on November 5, 2014


What irks me is that most restaurants charge like $4+ for a grilled cheese sandwich (add $1.25 for bacon). And they don't serve no fancy kind like in this FPP, just plain old bread, butter and processed cheese. And they have the nerve to charge $4!

Also, the trick to a perfect grilled cheese is putting butter directly in the pan, not on the bread.
posted by Vindaloo at 4:02 PM on November 5, 2014


Who are you people, with your roasted garlic in the bread dough (BREAD DOUGH) and your soup reduced from whole tomatoes and your slow heating of your dairy products? The world is full of fancy foods that take all day to cook properly. Grilled cheese is delicious and awesome because you can make it in 3.5 minutes when you are so hungover that you're afraid to use the sharp knives.
posted by Mayor West at 4:06 PM on November 5, 2014 [13 favorites]


So true, Mayor West.
posted by Vindaloo at 4:07 PM on November 5, 2014


The way to eat grilled cheese is to make it with light rye, mild cheddar and smoked gruyere, and cook with a lid on the pan so the cheese gets really melty. Then you share it with your tiny little pet bird, who gives tiny little baby bird squeaks of joy while he eats because he loves the soft warm fluffy inside part of the bread so much. You can also top it with a sunny side up egg. The bird will also like this.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:10 PM on November 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


Slice an onion -- doesn't matter how, you're going to blend it...

I prefer "Open can, dump in pan, make hot with fire."

Note that I put the soup in a pan and then put fire on the pan, like a groumet, instead of just putting fire on the can to make it hot that way. Also I use a little metal dooey to dig up the soup, and then I eat the soup out of the dooey. Turns out this is way better than putting your hands in the hot soup.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:13 PM on November 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


I would love to see an FPP about, I dunno, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese just to hear all the very MetaFiltery recommendations that one cook it in a hand-beaten copper pot over a peat fire and mix the cheese powder with white truffle butter and serve with fiddleneck ferns or whatever.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:15 PM on November 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


There are as many variations of Kraft Mac &Cheese as there are ways to spruce up instant ramen.
posted by The Whelk at 4:16 PM on November 5, 2014


oh god the ramen thread
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:17 PM on November 5, 2014


I keep seeing ads for ramen burgers and I want to die
posted by The Whelk at 4:18 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


You can also top it with a sunny side up egg. The bird will also like this.

I know birds have no qualms about being cannibals, but this is still kind of sad and awful.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:18 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]




Oh god there is a hell
posted by The Whelk at 4:23 PM on November 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


No but seriously if you want to make the best Kraft Mac and cheese you have to melt the butter, mix that with the cheese powder, mix that with the milk, then pour that deliciously salty slurry over the hot noodles (not overcooked, please). Then dump in as much soy sauce as your salt meter can tolerate, and eat with a plastic fork directly out of the pot.
posted by Night_owl at 4:25 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sourdough, gruyere and cheddar, avocado, and tomato, with chipotle mayo for dipping. But really, all grilled cheese sandwiches are perfect in their own way except those where the cheese hasn't melted all the way through.
posted by ostro at 4:25 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


No one else uses mayo instead of butter on the outside? Hm. You should try it. It grills up deliciously greasy and crisp.
posted by apricot at 4:30 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


mudpuppie, if you want to take that recipe to the next level...

That's a weekend soup or a day-off soup. I like the other because I can knock it out when I get home from work, before I collapse into a heap of exhaustion, soothed by grilled cheese.

I prefer "Open can, dump in pan, make hot with fire."

I was perfectly okay with Campbell's tomato soup until I made the recipe I typed out above. Campbell's is easier, but a bowl of soup from the quick recipe using canned tomatoes is one I actually want to finish with a spoon.

Actually, except for the eating part, I'm quite a fan of Campbell's. I explained why a few months ago in a MetaTalk thread.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:31 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mudpuppie, are you from Sacratomato?
posted by apricot at 4:36 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Imminent future conversation between me and my daughter:

D: Dad why are you putting soy sauce in the mac and cheese, stop, don't, it's wrong

PBO: SORRY HONEY SOMEBODY ON THE INTERNET TOLD ME TO DO THIS
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:37 PM on November 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


I like to put spicy brown mustard in my Kraft Mac and cheese.

And enough ground pepper that it's nearly black.
posted by winna at 4:51 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've been making toasted cheese sandwiches mostly, which are much more the thing in Australia. A toasted cheese and tomato sandwich is a beautiful thing, really. But the butter isn't usually on the outside, making it like dry toast encasing this gooey tomatoey lusciousness. All very nice, and probably healthier, but still.

Then a couple of months ago I was at the local posh shop which is nice to go into every so often. I was planning to make a green veggie soup and it occurred to me that I had fond memories of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. So I bought some sliced Jarlsberg and a loaf of (probably artisanal) potato rosemary sourdough. It had some holes in it, but not too many. The potato was cooked in chunks and throughout the dough, and the rosemary wasn't too overwhelming. And somehow this demanded to be cooked, buttered on the outside, in a frying pan instead of on my faithful sandwich press.

It was the most divine thing I have ever tasted. I'm now in love with Jarlsberg cheese toasties. Even on lesser bread than the artisanal potato rosemary, they're still pretty good!
posted by Athanassiel at 4:55 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Man wasn't meant to live on bread and cheese alone and I for one think that's a mistake.
posted by The Whelk at 4:59 PM on November 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I was perfectly okay with Campbell's tomato soup until I made the recipe I typed out above.

Yah, I'm actually going to try that with this can of San Marzanos that's been in the pantry screaming EEEEAT ME for a bit.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:14 PM on November 5, 2014


Oh how i wish i could get San Francisco style sourdough (Boudin's) here in Toronto. Properly sour and when grilled just a hint of sweet. Add two tomato slices and some red onion and you have a super california grilled cheese sandwich.
posted by anthill at 5:23 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can't be the only one who went a little cross-eyed at Ghetto Grillz (who source their bread from an artisan baker in Northumberland)

It wasn't the sentence so much that did it, but the Instagram photo of one of the Ghetto Grillz Girlz on her "autumnal walk" in her unicorn sweatshirt with the hashtag #unicornjoy did strike me as little ... uh ... white bread.
posted by drlith at 5:24 PM on November 5, 2014


Also, I've spent years perfecting the art, and have concluded that the perfect grilled cheese has cheese, and bread, and is grilled.
posted by drlith at 5:25 PM on November 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


My wife makes the best grilled cheese I've ever had. I swear part of its awesomeness ties back in with the grill/griddle/frying pan question: our 1961 Kenmore griddletop stove. Fifty years' grease, oil, and other "flavor" burned into the aluminum makes for *magic*.
posted by notsnot at 5:26 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


A new trendy bar just opened near my office that specialized in $10 grilled cheese sandwiches; I'm assuming that this trend is on it's way out since we're usually five year behind on all of these artisanal foot fads around here.
posted by octothorpe at 5:28 PM on November 5, 2014


You can also top it with a sunny side up egg. The bird will also like this.

Birds like eggs?

SO WRONG
posted by drlith at 5:29 PM on November 5, 2014


This is a distressing thread: grilled cheese sandwich as actual food to cook and eat and like? WTF?

Why not a thread about the best way to listen to Justin Bieber albums? (First of all I get some cheese and then I lie on the couch with my sour bread, then I just jism all over the bread and cheese with my favorite Bieber album).

A cheese toastie is for children - put the fry pan down and step away from the latest hunger games movie....

Please.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 5:44 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Flagged as offensive.
posted by drlith at 5:47 PM on November 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


Birds like eggs?

SO WRONG


I've seen chickens eat thier own eggs, red in tooth and claw, etc.
posted by The Whelk at 5:53 PM on November 5, 2014


I've seen chickens eating a dead chicken, they don't limit themselves to embryo.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:16 PM on November 5, 2014


yea, guys, what you find in an egg is what baby birds live off of before they hatch. Eggs are baby bird food just like milk is baby cow food. Do you drink milk? is that gross?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:34 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


So many comments and yet the One True Way TM has yet to be revealed. Regardless of your cheese choices and bread fetishes, the secret to an outstanding grilled cheese sandwich is this:
1. Butter both sides of two slices of bread.
2. Grill/fry one side of both slices of bread.
3. Build your sandwich by putting the filling(s) in between both cooked sides.
4. Now cook the first undone side.
5. Flip and use a weight (or lean on the spatula) whilst you cook the other side.
I learned this technique during my brief happy career as a short order fry cook. The mouth feel of crispy-soft-crispy-cheese-crispy-soft-crispy is excellent.
posted by carmicha at 6:42 PM on November 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


Grate the cheese with a big grater, that's the key.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 6:51 PM on November 5, 2014


I've seen chickens eat thier own eggs, red in tooth and claw, etc.

Yep. Another thing chickens really like is leftover roast chicken carcasses. Carcassi?

I've found a microwave psyllium husk/almond meal hamburger bun that looks easy and decent so I'll be leaving the nuts hanging out of one of those bad boys tonight I reckon. Got me some good happy cow cheese, both tasty and pecorino, so I think this is going to be a decent feed.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:19 PM on November 5, 2014


A cheese toastie is for children - put the fry pan down and step away from the latest hunger games movie...

I'm an adult and a trained fine dining chef, your argument is invalid. Also I love The Hunger Games.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:09 PM on November 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


There's a little bar at the corner that makes a lovely grilled cheese. Paired with their amazing cream of potato soup and finished off with a pint of Guinness, it's the best thing on a chilly day.
posted by MissySedai at 8:15 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


You Americans aren't really getting the offensiveness of this appearing in a UK newspaper.

First of all it's a toastie not a fucking 'grilled cheese sandwich'. Secondly it's not grilled if you don't fucking grill it. Finally if it contains anything other than bread and cheese you're a ponce. We didn't even get as far as 'sandwich' until you imported those machines here in the 80s, and we promptly never used them a second time because you failed to also import a dishwasher to go with it, and ain't nobody got time for that shit.

Correct UK answer to this:

1) Put some bread under a grill until it turns a bit brown
2) Take it out and put cheese on the side you didn't toast already
3) Put that under a grill until the bread edges are brown and the cheese melted
4) Drown it in Worcestershire sauce. An acceptable alternative is to have a dollop of brown sauce on the side to dip it.
5) Walk it out of the kitchen past the Breville toasted sandwich maker thing that no fucker ever uses. Eat.


Metafilter: overthinking a plate of beans. Or, as in this case, cheese on toast.
posted by genghis at 9:58 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Mr. gudrun and I generally ascribe to the simple is better school of grilled cheese (though we sometimes add ham to make it a sort of Croque Monsieur, in honor of the excellent ones I got in France as a kid.)

Recently though we saw an America's Test Kitchen episode that gets a bit fancier. To make up for the fact that some of the nicer aged cheddars, like the Vermont cheddars we love, don't melt all that well they include some brie in the mix. Specifically for four sandwiches the blend is 7 oz. of cheddar cut up, 2 oz. brie with all the rind cut off, 2 Tbl. dry white wine, and about 4 tsp. minced shallots. They blend all that in the food processor to form the cheese filling. They coat the outside of the 8 bread slices with some melted unsalted butter (about 3 Tbl.) to which they add a bit of mustard, and then cook the filled sandwiches slowly on each side in a preheated nonstick skillet. We tried this method recently and I thought it had potential, though I was not a fan of including the mustard, and I might cut back just a bit on the amount of brie, wine and shallots if we make it again.
posted by gudrun at 10:37 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


The article allows for the existence of both "toasties" and the grilled cheese sandwich, and makes the distinctions clear. The US just happened to one-up the toastie after creating The Platonic Melting Cheese Food (American Cheese) but they are both allowed to co-exist, and we had "toasted cheese" around the ages of 5-6 in my school and it is, I would agree, typically thought to be a more childish food, this "toastie," whereas the grilled cheese sandwich is often the first "after breakfast" thing that many Americans learn to make on their own and carries a lot of emotional weight, and I would allow that goes a long way. But then you have animal fat frying (fuck margarine), custom-made once-melted and re-solidified cyber-cheese melting and proteins denaturing, carmelization / maillaird reaction and all manner of straightforward "turning simple staples into sizzling successes" (yeah I said that for some reason) techniques.

I'm not gonna bother getting into the food-adjective-prescriptivism, the "grill" never made sense to me either except in the context of sandwich presses that might have "grill marks" which have been around forever and were always bullshit in my eyes (for a proper grilled cheese sandwich).

Once you've tried the grilled cheese sandwich described, instead of the kindergarten cafeteria snack, you'll come around. Combine with tomato soup and you'll surrender. Start with the simplest white bread and American cheese, Campbell's soup. The thing is, you can upgrade all of those elements, and there's nothing wrong with that if you have the time or inclination. And naturally as you do so, you deviate away from the original sandwich and must know what you're doing. If you buy some crusty sourdough bread and fancy cheese but the bread is cut thick-as-fuck and the cheese barely melts at all and looks more fake and neon-nuclear than American cheese afterward, fuck that noise. It takes skill to escalate without simply masturbating and over-engineering. But it's done all of the time, It is a Thing.
posted by aydeejones at 11:16 PM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


By Americans "making food on their own" I mean reaching the point in childhood where the parents trust you to turn on the stove rather than going with the microwave or making cold sandwiches. For me it was around 8.

"After breakfast" implying that we, or at least the US-Americans I grew up with, typically knew how to pan-scramble eggs and make other breakfast stuff like "french toast" first (there we go again, french toast is typically pan fried, not toasted), probably because our parents got sick of us waking them up for a Sunday breakfast (not cold cereal again!) after a long night long before the need for us to prepare lunch or dinner on our own.
posted by aydeejones at 11:25 PM on November 5, 2014


The best grilled cheese sandwich is the one your mother or father made for you when you were eight and sick at home from school and feeling better enough to be peckish but not, you know, better enough to go back to school and you were sitting on the good couch in your pyamas eating them with a bowl of the fancy tomato soup next to them.

Raw onion may have been put into them but you took it out because you didn't feel up to raw onion just yet.

All the fancy schmancy overegged grilled cheese sandwiches you occasionally buy from the food trucks and speciality restaurants that sprung up in the last couple of months, with traces of the cupcake bakeries they once were still visible, never taste as good. The enthusiasm and conviction with which the extravagantly moustachioed chef defends his choice of cheeses for them feels hollow to you.

Your friend is more sensible and never buys a grilled cheese sandwich, unless the two of you are in a non-food pub and he orders a toastie to go with his IPA.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:51 AM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


3) Put that under a grill until the bread edges are brown and the cheese melted


But that's not a grilled cheese sandwich, that's a toasted cheese sandwich and a totally different thing. In the US a 'grill' is something that the sandwich sits on top of, not under and it's just not grilled cheese without the butter on the outside.
posted by octothorpe at 4:47 AM on November 6, 2014


Brie.

That is all ye know on toast, and all ye need to know.
posted by forgetful snow at 4:52 AM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Perhaps too late to this thread to save you, but sorry, you are ALL wrong. Johnny Depp definitively shows us how to make the prefect grilled cheese sandwich. Apron optional.

(And even here, people critique whether the low setting might have been preferable.)
posted by evilmomlady at 5:02 AM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


VEGEMITE. It took me years of making faces at my Aussie-extracted partner's habit of putting Aussie extracts on toast, but vegemite & cheddar is all I want now.
posted by Westringia F. at 6:46 AM on November 6, 2014


The same applies to bacon/the idea of a BLT. America wins here.
I'm sorry, but you have made a mistake.

I would like to add a correction to the recipe for cheese-on-toast a l'Anglais.
2) Take it out and put cheese on the side you didn't toast already
2b) smear two broad dollops of VERY HOT yellow English mustard on top of the cheese
3) Put that under a grill until the bread edges are brown and the cheese melted black and carbonised, the top of the mustard is black and bubbling, the edges of the cheese are getting crispy and brown and the main body of the cheese not just melted but molten.

This is a snack that is highly conducive to intestinal fortitude. In cold weather it is warming, and clears out your sinuses in a tingly and not unbearable manner. It will also harden the skin on the roof of your mouth which god knows, we could all do with more of. Heaven forefend the newfound Epicureanism of the American version continue to sap the people's virtue!

Actually I do prefer the plain, burnt, mustardy, rather dry English version of this bread-based cheesy food. But then you have animal fat frying (fuck margarine), custom-made once-melted and re-solidified cyber-cheese melting and proteins denaturing, carmelization / maillaird reaction and all manner of straightforward "turning simple staples into sizzling successes" (yeah I said that for some reason) techniques.

Well, you know, sometimes you can't be bothered with faffy food. (God, I hope faffy's not etymologically dubious - pls to inform if so. <---serious)
posted by glasseyes at 9:45 AM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Specifically for four sandwiches the blend is 7 oz. of cheddar cut up, 2 oz. brie with all the rind cut off, 2 Tbl. dry white wine, and about 4 tsp. minced shallots.

I saw that Test Kitchen episode also. What struck me about that cheese blend idea, especially when they also added the wine, is that essentially what they've done is make "Fromage Fort" - a French method for using up assorted bits of leftover cheese. Which makes me want to try this with all kinds of different cheese mixtures.
posted by dnash at 10:15 AM on November 6, 2014


Ain't nothing "faffy" about pan frying a cheese sandwich. Knowing what is going on is the nerdy part, and that ain't faffy too. Well maybe, for weirdly sensitive people who get upset that others think about food.
posted by aydeejones at 11:18 AM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


The best tomato soup for grilled cheese involves a lot of bacon. If you see this, nile_red, I want that recipe!
posted by domo at 12:02 PM on November 6, 2014


I can't see putting a cheese sandwich under a broiler, I'm sure that I'd set my oven on fire at least two out of three times that I'd try that. I'll stick with pan frying.
posted by octothorpe at 12:11 PM on November 6, 2014


weirdly sensitive people who get upset that others think about food
Good grief, you lookin at me, mate? Oh well.
posted by glasseyes at 12:43 PM on November 6, 2014


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