Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese sandwiches are really more of a concept than a recipe.  I was inspired by the blog Grilled Cheese Social to have one.

The sandwich in the photo is Stilton with pears and apples on sourdough.  Papa Smurf bought the cheese, then decided he didn't like it, so I've been finding uses.  Some went in a quiche, and I think the rest will end up in sandwiches.

The parts of your basic grilled cheese are as follows:

1.  Bread -  It doesn't have to be Wonder White with Velveeta in a grilled cheese.  Sourdough, rye, whole grain, and just about any sliced bread works.  I'm trying to use up my Passover matzah.  Technically, a quesadilla is a type of grilled cheese sandwich.  Open your horizons.

2.  Cheese - Again, don't be afraid to experiment.  And you can use more than one type of cheese in the sandwich.  The softness of Brie may be just what it takes to make a hard cheese like Parmesan melt properly.  Pretty much anything you can find in even the fanciest markets would work, if paired correctly with the appropriate bread.

3.  Garnishes - This is anything between the slices that is not cheese.  I put minced green onions on this one.  A lot of people like tomatoes.  You could go all outre and use truffle shavings or leftover barbecued chicken.  (Actually, that sounds pretty good.)  Consider your bread and cheese choices, and go for it.

4.  Butter or oil -  The bread will not brown when you heat it without some kind of fat.  The two main methods are a) coat the pan and then put in the bread, or b) spread the butter on the bread and then place it in the hot pan.  I prefer the latter, because it's easier to control the amount used.

Now, for the basic how-to:

1.  Preheat skillet over medium heat.  Spread 1 tsp butter on "outer" sides of two slices of bread.  Place bread butter-side down in skillet and lower heat to medium-low.  By keeping the heat low, the cheese has time to melt before the bread gets too dark.

2.  Add cheese to each slice.  I usually use about 2 oz of cheese in a sandwich.  If you like it thick, gooey, and oozing all over the plate, go for more.

3.  When cheese is mostly melted, add garnish.  It will not cook inside the sandwich, so have it prepared the way you intend to eat it before it goes in.

4.  Carefully close sandwich using a spatula.  Continue to cook until bread is browned on both sides just as dark as you like it.  Serve hot.

Makes 1 sandwich

Difficulty rating  π

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