We love grilled cheese sandwiches. They are delicious and so easy to make. Also, I firmly believe that there isn’t much better than a grilled cheese and tomato soup on a rainy autumn day. With cooler autumn weather arriving I have had my mind on this topic. While a simple bread and cheese grilled cheese is delicious, we also like to mix things up a little. The possibilities are endless when it comes to jazzing up the basic grilled cheese. Call it – grown up grilled cheese.
First, let’s talk bread. White bread is standard, but a whole wheat or multigrain sandwich bread can proffer divine results. Not to mention, foccacia, ciabatta, english muffins, naan and other carb-tastic bread varieties. Second, you have to consider your cheese options. American cheese, while classic, leaves much to be desired (like real food ingredients). Some of my favorites: fresh or smoked mozzarella, provolone, swiss, brie, muenster, fontina, feta, I really could go on and on. Here are few ideas for additional ingredients: meat (ham, genoa salami, proscuitto, bacon), veggies (spinach, olives, fresh or sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions), fruits (figs, pear, apple, cranberries, pineapple, jam or spreads) or herbs (basil, cilantro, dill). The combinations could go on forever and are only limited by your imagination and adventurousness of your palate.
Take for instance today’s sandwich: Mulitgrain bread, genoa salami, smoked mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, olives, and baby spinach. Yum!
Of course, your equipment and technique are important to creating an excellent sandwich as well. I recommend a really good cast iron pan for cooking your sandwich. A good spread of butter or some olive oil in the pan will help crisp the bread and keep it from sticking to a pan that isn’t properly seasoned. As far as technique – don’t over load your sandwich, you have to be able to flip it without it falling apart and get it into your mouth. These are very important things people!! I also try to set up my layers so the sandwich will stick together well – loose parts like olives or spinach are best when next to cheese that will melt and act like glue. Slices of tomato are great up against the bread so it can absorb juice. I also think it is important to put your meat next to bread so it is close to your palate when eating, so it doesn’t get lost, flavor wise. And lastly, make sure you’re pan is not too hot, you don’t want you sandwich burning, or being done on the outside, before the inside is warm and melty. Take your time cooking the sandwich so you get the perfect crispy golden brown outside and the warm melty inside. Don’t be afraid to put a lid on your pan for a minute or two to help the inside get warm, just don’t leave a lid on too long or your ‘wich could get a little soggy from too much condensation.
So I’ll bet you’ve never put that much thought into a grilled cheese sandwich before. But let me tell you, think about it once and make the perfect sandwich and you’ll never go back to haphazardly throwing wonderbread and american cheese in a pan ever again. Oh, and make sure you have enough to make a second sandwich – one might not be enough!