Pull out the panini press, grab your spatulas, and grate up your favorite cheddar: It’s National Grilled Cheese Month!
In honor of this beloved comfort food, we’re sharing some expert advice for making the best grilled cheese sandwich, as well as sharing some gourmet grilled cheese recipes from the cheese connoisseurs of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Say cheese!
Tips For The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich:
- Use real butter. The flavor of fresh butter is important for a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.
- Butter the outer side of the bread, not the pan. The butter will be more evenly distributed, which ensures a properly golden, crisp sandwich.
- Grate or shred the cheese; it will melt faster.
- When using dense breads, slice them no more than 1/2-inch thick, so that the heat can penetrate and melt the cheese.
- Press the sandwich with a spatula after it’s been flipped, to help the melted cheese spread evenly.
- Use a nonstick pan instead of cast-iron. The sandwich is less likely to stick to the pan, which makes clean-up much easier.
- Be sure that your butter is fresh. Otherwise, it will carry old refrigerator flavors onto your sandwich.
- If your budget doesn’t allow for expensive cheeses, good condiments can easily punch up the flavor—from Dijon mustard to honey.
- Balancing the fat of a grilled cheese sandwich with an acid flavor is a delicious counterpoint. Garnish the plate with gherkins or pickled vegetables.
(Courtesy of the brilliant food enthusiasts at The Nibble)
Once you’ve got your technique perfected, try one of these grilled cheese recipes to expand your culinary horizons with creative flavor combinations.
Grilled Havarti Sandwich with Spiced Apples
Instead of following the trend to “deconstruct” dishes, this grilled cheese sandwich “re-constructs” the cheese board, combining the cheese, the fruit and the bread into a sandwich. The sautéed apples turn a regular sandwich into a very special delight—like apple pie and cheese. A sharp Cheddar would go equally well as the Havarti. In a way, it becomes a deconstructed/reconstructed apple pie with Cheddar.
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
- 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
- 4 to 6 tablespoons sugar, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 8 thick slices rustic round loaf bread (French or Italian)
- 8 thin slices Havarti cheese
- Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat.
- Add apples, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom; cook about 7 minutes, stirring frequently until most of the apple juices are reduced and the fruit is coated with a syrup.
- Remove pan from heat. Set aside.
- Place four slices of the bread on a griddle.
- Top each with one slice of Havarti, 1/4 of the spiced apples, another slice of Havarti, and top with the remaining slices of bread.
- Butter the sandwich tops. Turn over and butter again.
- Place griddle over medium heat.
- Brown sandwiches on each side 3 to 5 minutes, until golden and Havarti begins to melt.
- Cool 5 minutes before serving.
Grilled Blue Cheese & Bacon Sandwiches
- 1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 8 slices hearty onion artisan bread, 1/2 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp
- In a small bowl, combine Blue cheese, cream cheese, scallions and pepper; mix well.
- Butter one side of each slice of bread.
- Spread the Blue cheese mixture on the non-buttered side of 4 slices of bread.
- Cut bacon slices in half; place 2 halves on top of each Blue cheese topped slice.
- Cover with remaining 4 slices of bread, buttered side out.
- Place sandwiches on an electric griddle heated to 275ºF, or in a preheated skillet over medium heat.
- Cook 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted.
Whether you make your own signature-styled gourmet grilled cheese or keep it classic with an American-and-white-bread recipe, be sure to sink your teeth into some crispy, melty, cheesy goodness this month.
Happy Foodie Friday!
And, of course, for something a little weird…
It’s amazing to see how many successful ventures have odd, offbeat, and humble beginnings. Here in Nashville, we enjoy the sandwich-making genius of the folks behind The Grilled Cheeserie—a food truck you can find parked at various locations around town serving lunch!
Another popular grilled cheese purveyor—Tom and Chee—started out in a tent! Check out there rise to success (thanks in large part to a winning pitch on the ABC reality show Shark Tank) in the video below.