The ultimate comfort food – for both children and adults alike – is a warm, wonderful, and ever so simple grilled cheese sandwich. The traditional combination of buttered white bread and ooey gooey American cheese easily brightens gloomy days and effortlessly feeds a hungry soul. When this classic mouthwatering masterpiece gets a gourmet makeover, the allure of sinking your teeth into pan-crisped bread and mouthwateringly melted cheese becomes even more irresistible.
If the most adventurous modification you have ever made to your grilled cheese is use Swiss cheese or, perhaps, add crispy bacon or tomato slices, the following combinations will definitely appeal to your palate. The classic rendition is unquestionably delicious and satisfying but a change in texture, flavor, and presentation will whet your senses and pique your desire for grilled cheese even more.
Making the perfect grilled cheese is an art – one that is easily mastered with the right ingredients and technique.
The ideal thickness for bread slices is about 1/2 to 1-inch. Slices that are too thin will fall apart from the weight of the cheese. If they are too thick, they will burn before the cheese is fully melted. Additionally, choose bread with a good crust – it will contribute to that lovely coveted crispiness. A tangy sourdough cut from a round loaf works especially well, as do Pullman and French breads. Pre-sliced white bread may prove disappointing unless you purchase an artisan loaf with slices thicker than bagged commercial varieties.
The cheese is by far the most important ingredient in this sandwich. Provolone, pepper jack, mozzarella, cheddar, Muenster, or virtually any cheese behind the deli counter are good choices – ask for thin slices to ensure easy melting. You can also visit the cheese case and opt for artisan cheeses with soft, semi-soft, or semi-hard textures. If you squeeze the cheese and it gives, it will generally melt with ease. Experiment with Fontina, Brie, Camembert, Haloumi, Taleggio, Gruyere, Gouda, or Gorgonzola. You can even melt a mix of cheeses – try using different levels of softness.
The final essential ingredient is butter. Any salted butter will do, but look for English or Irish because of their creaminess. For best results, soften butter before you spread. Cold butter can tear the delicate crumb of some breads and it will not spread as evenly as butter at room temperature.
The basic essentials can result in the best grilled cheese ever. However, you can elevate your grilled cheese experience with additional ingredients that will give you an ever changing array of flavors.
Get creative – almost anything you can think of will taste delicious when melted together with cheese and butter.
Once you have decided on your bread, cheese, butter, and fillings, you can proceed to the pan. A grill pan with a press works exceptionally well for cooking, but two skillets will do the same job, without the grill marks.
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