The Perfect Grilled Cheese

I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate and practice making grilled cheese sandwiches this week. I stayed home sick from work all week and mainly ate toast and grilled cheese. I had no taste so I didn’t want to waste my food/meals/calories on something new or super tasty. Plus I had zero energy to cook. In fact making grilled cheese required too much energy on some days.

One of my favorite grilled cheese sandwiches is made with chipotle mayo and tomato. I tried to reblog my old post but apparently I’ve previously reblogged it and WordPress only allows you to reblog a blog once.

But it doesn’t really matter because the point I’m trying to make in this blog is less about the ingredients and more about the technique. I’ve been making grilled cheese for many, many years. Sometimes they turn out great. More often than not, the bread cooks too quickly as the cheese takes forever to melt. So I’ve compiled some tips that will allow you to make the perfect grilled cheese. See below.

  • Cook open-face  and covered on a very low heat. You will probably have to experiment with your stove top but I set mine to “2” and it was perfect. In fact by the time the cheese had melted the bread seemed like it could go a bit longer so I cranked the temperature up to “6” for about a minute. I prepared everything and placed the sandwich in the pan. Then I turned the heat on, covered the pan and walked away for a little while. It takes longer, but I promise you it is well worth it. This is especially important if you’re lathering your sandwich in any type of mayonnaise. I’ve noticed that when I cook a grilled cheese sandwich over higher heat when using mayo, the mayo seems to evaporate or soak into the bread. I like to be able to feel and taste that layer of mayonnaise and cooking on a low heat will allow you to achieve that.
  • If you’re using sliced tomato, make sure to blot the slices with paper towel to try to get them as dry as possible.
  • Use shredded cheese, it melts faster.
  • Use a cheese that’s semi-soft and creamy, it melts faster. I love fontina, Muenster, Havarti, mozzarella or Tillamook’s Colby-jack. Harder cheeses are fine to work with they just don’t melt as well, in my opinion.
  • If you’re using cooked bacon (and I highly suggest this), I like to use smaller pieces of bacon. Have you ever bitten into a grilled cheese made with entire slices and in one fell swoop or bite accidentally removed all or most of your bacon slice because your teeth didn’t saw through the meat? It happens to me all the time. Also I don’t like when the meat is not evenly distributed across your sandwich. I like bacon in every bite. I’ve found that using smaller pieces of bacon makes a better eating experience for me.
  • Cover your entire piece of bread with whatever spread you’re using. I prefer butter, hands down, but I know some people use a butter spread. You can also use mayonnaise for grilling. I think it makes your bread softer, but you can use it. I’ve even used cooking spray before. You don’t need to gob on your desired spread, just make sure it’s completely covered. When I notice a dry spot of bread I’ll scrape at a spot of bread that looks like it’s thick with butter to get some of that butter over onto the dry area of bread.
  • Rotate your pan. Sometimes your stove top doesn’t cook evenly. Or maybe it’s your pan. Either rotate your pan or rotate the bread within the pan. Just make sure that your pieces of bread are as evenly cooked as possible.
  • Allow to cool a minute before cutting, if cutting. Otherwise your cheese goes everywhere on your plate!

By today I had run out of the Muenster I was using and instead had only Monterrey jack. It was fine, but I’m telling you that a semi-soft cheese makes all the difference. Don’t be afraid of piling on the shredded cheese. I hate to tell you this but grilled cheese is not low-fat. It never will be. So why skimp on the best part (the cheese)?

One thing I’ve never tried, but should, is using browned butter as the spread for a grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve never found a dish or baked good that didn’t taste better when using browned butter.


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