The MOM 100 Blog
There are more than a few ways to make a good grilled cheese sandwich. For the more straightforward and less decadent version, you can use a toaster oven, the regular oven, or the broiler. But the best grilled cheese is made on a griddle or in a skillet.
Laura Werlin, author of many books on cheese, suggests covering the skillet at the beginning of the cooking process so that the cheese melts all the way through and then finishing the sandwiches with the skillet uncovered so that the outside of the bread gets nice and crisp. This tip has changed my grilled cheese sandwich making. Try it, and never again will any of you suffer the disappointment of unmelted cheese in the middle of your sandwich or overcooked toast at the expense of perfectly melted cheese.
These sandwiches are best hot from the pan, so they are definitely an excellent at-home lunch choice. My kids actually like them at room temperature, too, so they find their way into their lunch bags often, but that’s a very personal predilection.
4 slices of bread of your choice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 thin slices or 11⁄3 cups grated or crumbled cheese (see Fork in the Road, this page)
Nonstick cooking spray (optional)
- Spread one side of each slice of bread with the butter, dividing it equally. Place 2 slices on a cutting board, butter side down (a bit messy, yes), and layer 3 slices of cheese or sprinkle 2⁄3 cup of grated cheese on each slice of bread. If you are using more than one kind of cheese, divide the different kinds as you like between the sandwiches. Top the sandwiches with the remaining 2 slices of bread, butter side up.
- Heat a large skillet, either a nonstick skillet or one that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, over medium heat. Carefully place the sandwiches in the skillet, cover it, and cook the sandwiches until the bottoms start to turn golden brown, about 2 minutes. Uncover the skillet and, using a spatula, turn the sandwiches over (be careful if you’ve used grated cheese to make sure the filling stays put). Press down on the sandwiches a bit with the spatula, and cook them uncovered until the second side is golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Turn the sandwiches one more time, and cook them until the bottom is fully golden brown and crispy, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
- Transfer the sandwiches to the cutting board, let them sit for 2 minutes so that the cheese firms back up a bit, then cut the sandwiches in half and serve.
What kind of cheese? This is where the fun starts. This recipe is a blueprint, and the sandwich that results is your creation and yours alone. Intermingling different kinds of cheese results in some very special combinations. If you use a stronger flavored cheese, like Stilton for instance, you may want to cut the flavor with a slice of milder cheese like muenster, so the sandwich isn't too intense.
Some cheese options to mix and match: American cheese • blue cheese • Brie or a double cream cheese, trimmed of any thick rind • cheddar • feta • fontina • goat cheese (chèvre) • Gruyère • Jarlsberg • Monterey Jack • muenster • pepper Jack • Provolone • Swiss cheese.
And everyone can pick the add-ins for the grilled cheese of their dreams. Some ideas: spread of tapenade (olive paste), sun-dried tomato paste, or pesto; a thin slice of ham or prosciutto; slices of cooked bacon, crumbled or whole; thin slices of tomato; sautéed onions; and roasted bell pepper.
What the Kids Can Do:
Pick their favorite cheese, choose any add-ins they like, and layer up their sandwiches.