Grilled cheese: Essentials for great grilled cheese sandwiches
April just happens to be National Grilled Cheese Month, but we think every month is a reason to celebrate and sink our teeth into ooey gooey grilled cheese sandwiches.
Though the classic buttery white bread and cheddar cheese combination is worth a bite, we've been on a mission for grilled cheese inspiration. We talked shop with grilled cheese mavens Jessie Wantes and Haley Wood, owners of GourMelt Food Truck in Reno, Nevada to give you the dish on the essentials for great grilled cheese sandwiches.
Who are the girls of GourMelt?
Jessie Wantes and Haley Wood love grilled cheese so dearly that they have launched a successful sandwich business. They bring the many other grilled cheese fans in Reno, Nevada a tasty variety of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, homemade tomato soup and other daily specials. These entrepreneurial ladies don't have a cafe or restaurant to serve their wares. Instead, they are mobile. You can find Wantes and Wood delivering their delicious sandwiches from the award-winning GourMelt Food Truck. Reno Metomix gave GourMelt the 2012 Best Food Truck Award. The GourMelt motto is "We will fill your belly and melt your heart" and these grilled cheese chicks live up to their motto.
How to make the perfect grilled cheese
We asked Wantes and Wood to share their secret for great grilled cheese sandwiches. Here's what they had to say: “Our must-have items for cooking the perfect grilled cheese include a preheated griddle at 350 degrees F. We lightly brush melted butter on the bread for a perfectly toasted sandwich. The best grilled cheeses use fresh baked bread and high quality, easily melted cheese such as Jarlsberg or a creamy Brie. Put both sides on the griddle with evenly distributed cheese, and wait about three to four minutes for it to get nice and melted. Get creative! Use veggies, meats, sauces and spreads. The combinations are endless."
Must-try grilled cheese sandwiches
Wantes and Wood are always coming up with unusual but amazing grilled cheese combinations. Here are their favorites:
- Caprese Melt - Mozzarella, fresh tomato and basil, drizzled in balsamic vinegar and oil on sourdough bread.
- Croque Monsieur - Jarlsberg cheese, chevre cheese, ham and Dijon mustard on sourdough bread (add a fried egg to make it a Croque Madame).
- Loaded Baked Potato Melt - Cheddar cheese, bacon, a dollop of sour cream and chopped chives on potato bread.
- Sweet & Tangy - Chevre cheese and apples with a drizzle of honey melted on soft white bread or brioche.
- Fresh Chevrai - A soft, unripened goat cheese and thin sliced beets (roasted in balsamic vinegar and honey) on multigrain bread.
- Brie - Cow’s milk or use a triple crème goat Brie with cooked crumbled prosciutto and fig jam, on soft sourdough bread.
- Manchego - Use young 3-month aged manchego, ham and quince paste (if you can’t find quince, use fig) on white bread.
- Swiss - Swiss (Jarlsberg can also be used), sautéed mushrooms, onions and orange marmalade on a baguette.
- Cheddar - Along with apple and bacon on brioche.
Our favorite grilled cheese sandwich essentials
Here are just a few of our favorite must-haves for mouthwatering grilled cheese sandwiches.
If you're looking for nonstick cookware that is free of PFOA and PTFE, the chemicals commonly found in traditional nonstick coatings, you've got to get the Todd English Gourmet Griddle Pan. Made with Thermolon, the Todd English cookware is not only eco-friendly, it can also be used at high heat and is oven-safe. The Griddle Pan is our favorite pick for cooking perfect grilled cheese sandwiches.
Plugra European Butter (Price varies)
European-style butter is higher in fat and has a creamier, richer flavor compared to regular American butter. Some say that the taste difference is negligible, but we challenge you to do a side-by-side taste test to tell. Be sure to melt the butter and brush on the bread before placing in the skillet -- it will cover the bread more evenly than slathering on room temperature butter.
French Meadow Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread (Price varies)
Call us crazy but we love grilled cheese using raisin bread. For the gluten-free eater, French Meadow's cinnamon raisin bread is plump with raisins and intoxicatingly fragrant. (Note: This bread does contain eggs.)
The Gracious Gourmet Lemon Artichoke Pesto (about $10 for 7-ounce jar)
Elevate your grilled cheese from ordinary to gourmet with this creamy artichoke pesto, made with lemon, garlic and parsley. The Gracious Gourmet has a delectable selection of other condiments, such as chutney, spreads and tapenades, to slather in your grilled cheese sandwiches.
Toastabags ($5 for a 2-pack)
Cold grilled cheese sandwiches simply won't cut it, but when your workplace doesn't have a stovetop (but has a toaster oven!), you can still enjoy an ooey gooey grilled cheese sandwich if you have Toastabags. Slip your cheese and bread into a Toastabag and cook to perfection in the toaster. Toastabags can be reused over two dozen times and can be used for reheating pizza, pastries and other food items that tend to get soggy in the microwave.