Recently, I have become more of a night owl. Especially on weekends, I love binge watching my favorite series or movies. And when you are up almost all night, you absolutely must have a midnight snack. There are two options I usually go for – Chinese takeout or a classic grilled cheese sandwich.
I don’t really dislike Chinese food, but if you really want me to pick between a Chinese takeout or a homemade cheese sandwich, the sandwich will win every time! Whether it’s 3 in the morning or noon, time really doesn’t matter. You can enjoy a classic grilled cheese sandwich for lunch or a midnight snack. It is the best comfort food ever!
Now there are several grilled cheese sandwich recipes you can follow, so why is my recipe the best of all? Well, purely because it is easy to follow, it is THE classic recipe & it’s a piece of cake! There is no rocket science. No mayo, no honey et al…Basically no gimmicks needed. What I personally like about grilled cheese is that you can either serve it as an entrée paired with soup or as an appetizer with soup shots.
A perfectly grilled sandwich has a golden, crispy crust with gooey, melting cheese inside. Just pair the sandwich with a tart accompaniment like tomato slices or pickle as an offset to the richness of cheese. And it will be enough to melt your heart…make your tastebuds dance in excitement. It is, without a doubt, simplicity at it’s best!
HISTORY OF GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH
Bread and cheese have been a staple for people for thousands of years. References can be found that people used to enjoy bread and cheese for dinner on various occasions in the past. In fact, an old roman cookbook even had a recipe that said to combine the two and enjoy for dinner.
The usage of the term “melted cheese sandwich” started in 1902. However, it wasn’t until 1910 that a combination of cheese and ham in between two slices of bread officially made it to the menu of a French restaurant. They called it the Croque Monsieur.
Since then, the grilled sandwich started to gain popularity and soon became a widely loved dish across the world. It was almost on America’s every menu in the 1900s.
It was Walter Gerber of Thun, Switzerland, who invented processed cheese in 1911, although it was James L. Kraft who first applied for an American patent for his method in 1916. The first ever commercially available sliced processed cheese, was created & introduced in 1950 by Kraft Foods. That was just the beginning for the world of cheese sandwiches.
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HOW TO MAKE YOUR CLASSIC GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH INNOVATIVE?
There are so many ways to enjoy a grilled cheese sandwich. Here are a few ingredients you can play around with to make an insanely delectable sandwich:
- Bread: You can choose French bread, sourdough, thickly sliced boule, challah, brioche. Dark rye or pumpernickel also go well with lighter cheese like Havarti or Gouda. Please note that thicker the bread slices the longer will it take the cheese to melt.
- Conventional cheese: If you are going for right balance of crusty on the outside & gooey on the inside, use a cheese that melts easily. Some melting cheese you can use are Swiss, Cheddar, American (fam fav), Raclette, Monterey Jack, Colby, Provolone, Gruyere, Havarti.
- Unconventional cheese to use – haloumi (for that new experience), feta, goat cheese or blue cheese. When using a non-melting cheese like haloumi, mix it up with melting one like mozzarella. It will not overpower the flavor of Haloumi but only add the gooey factor that we all crave.
- Cold cut: A slice of ham, pepperoni, salami, prosciutto or turkey will add that extra protein factor.
- Fruits & Vegetables: You can go for sliced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, basil, mushrooms, spinach, beets (yes beets… think Halloween!), persimmon, peach, nectarine, etc.
- Olive oil: You can also use olive oil, chili oil for extra heat…instead of butter.
- Eggs: Soft-scrambled eggs or hard boiled eggs taste awesome too!
- Dress up: If you are not a purist like me, think Kimchi grilled sandwich, cream cheese with caramelized carrot sandwich. Condiments like Sauerkraut, mustard, romesco sauce, mango chutney, cranberry sauce can also be added to your cheesy experience.
- Larger portions: Need to make larger portions to serve guests all at once. Simply pop the butter side down with cheese spread on top & bake in a preheated 425°F oven until the cheese starts bubbling. Then place the other bread slice on top, with buttered side facing up. Bake till golden brown for about 4-5 minutes.
You can either add one or combine a few ingredients to make a complete meal. Whatever you add, the sandwich will taste amazing.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CLASSIC GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH
- 4 Bread slices
- 3 Tbsp. Butter, melted or sitting at room temperature
- 2 ⅔ Cups Grated Cheese, or 4 cheese slices
- Take 2 slices and butter the opposite sides of the bread.
- Heat a pan or skillet on medium low heat.
- Place 1 bread slice with the butter side down, onto the pan.
- Add grated cheese, evenly covering all the bread with the cheese.
- Place the second bread slice on top, with butter side facing up. Grill for 3-4 minutes.
- Once the grilled side looks golden brown, flip the sandwich.
- Grill for another 2-3 minutes, till the other side is golden brown too. Or until cheese is melted.
- Remove from skillet and cut into smaller portions.
- Dunk and enjoy with your favorite soup!
Although in my humble opinion there is no better time to eat a grilled cheese sandwich than straight after it comes off the stove…when the buttery bread is crackling crisp with gooiest melted cheese. But that does not rule out the option of making it ahead of schedule and storing it for lunch. You definitely can; it’s merely a matter of determining, what storing technique is the best, that can keep it warm till lunch time. Here’s how to do that.
I have tried few different ways to pack it for lunch but this one technique is hands down the best ever! Just use the thermos food containers like this one from Target. Cut the grilled cheese sandwich into bite sized pieces so that you can easily stack them inside the thermos container. The sandwich will remain warm for few hours when sealed tightly.
What to expect when you finally open the thermos at lunch time? Well, the cheese will not be as gooey as earlier though the center will still be soft enough, the bread will loose it’s crispiness & will be a little firm but not soggy. What will not change at all is the TASTE! That is what we need at end…right? It is one of my fav things to pack for kid’s lunch. And do not forget to pack the tomato soup in another thermos. You cannot have one without the other.
Tips on how to get that perfect CHEESY MASTERPIECE:
- Pan – A nonstick pan or well-seasoned cast iron skillet is the best pan to use because it will brown the bread evenly, and allow you to flip the sandwich with ease. You can use stovetop grill pan with lid like this one. If you do not have a lid that fits, use any other that does!
- Spatula – Use wide spatula like this one here. Avoid using tongs as the pressure from tongs will smush the sandwich. We want to retain the texture & thickness of the bread slices, not destroy it.
- Heat – Grilling over medium low heat works the best to achieve desired results.
- Butter – Butter goes on the bread, not the pan. Instead of dropping butter into a hot skillet, spread an even layer of butter onto bread slices to get even golden crust. Make sure to leave butter out for some time as butter at room temperature spreads evenly and easily.
- Know when to flip – Start with cooking the sandwich on one side over medium heat and flipping it as soon as it starts turning golden brown. Watch the sandwich, do not step away if you don’t want over-browned aka burnt sandwich.
- Grated cheese or Sliced cheese – to cover more surface area use grated cheese, it also melts more easily. If you are too tired to grate, just go with sliced ones…you’ll still land up with an awesome sandwich.
- How much Cheese to use – With grated cheese the rule of the thumb is – a good, fluffy, not tightly packed handful. Better still…just eyeball it, as the size of the bread can vary. My GOLDEN rule to get a decadent grilled cheese is 1 Cup grated cheese. If you don’t want overflowing cheese cut it short to 2/3rd Cup of grated cheese.
- Patience – Do NOT slam the sandwich with egg spatula trying to get the cheese melt faster. I have seen few people do that. You only end up squishing the bread into a limp sandwich. Patience is the key to tasting CLASSIC GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH ever!
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