In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I have made the super-ultimate grilled cheese sandwich! Complete with instructions on how to make a perfect one.
It’s National Grilled Cheese Month. What a perfect month! Grilled cheese has, at least for most Americans, as much if not more nostalgia than the happy meal. It’s often the first thing a kid learns how to make, then we improvise the sandwich in college dorm rooms by cooking them with an iron (hint: do this in between foil, people!). As we grow into proper foodies, we then tend to ditch the Wonder bread and Kraft cheese slices and go for fancier ingredients. Smoked gouda, anyone?
I did a little research to make sure I found the absolute best way to make a grilled cheese sandwich. It didn’t take but a quick Google search, and you know I actually learned a thing or two in the process, plus have my own nuggets of wisdom to throw in there. Here is what I’ve found to yield the absolute perfect grilled cheese sandwich, if by perfect you mean so delectable and melty and rich that about half a sandwich is the right portion. If by “perfect” you mean white bread and American cheese, well then you can just go home because we’re done here.
1. The Bread: You want something somewhat crusty on the outside, soft and not too holy on the inside. (So your cheese doesn’t melt through.) Aside from that, it all depends on your tastes. Keep it simple with sliced French bread (not a baguette, but the thicker, more robust French loaf), switch it up with pumpernickel, or add some fiber with something seedy and whole grained. I used slices from the center of a boule, mostly because that’s what looked best at the store that day that would yield slices about the right size.
2. The Fat: I’d often heard of people using mayonnaise on the outside of the bread instead of butter. I made one of each and put it to the test of 3 tasters, including myself. For the mayo I used light Lemonnaise. While we all appreciated the tang of the mayo sandwich, everyone preferred the buttered sandwich. It crisped up a little better and really yielded that special, grilled cheese, je ne sais quois. It just tasted right. The one big tip I have here is to butter and pan sear both sides of the bread. Don’t ask questions, just do it. It’s better that way, I promise. Butter the first side of both pieces of bread, then flip it, then fill it. Then put the second slice on top, grilled side down, and cook then flip until everything is melted and the outsides are nice and crisp.
3. The Cheese: On cheese selection, you want to use a softer cheese, but one that’s still somewhat pliable. This means you want cheddar, jack, colby, Brie, Asadero… or basically anything that isn’t a hard cheese (like parmesan) or a really really soft cheese, like goat cheese. You can use those other cheeses, but they are best considered to be in the “extras” or “topping” category (even though they aren’t really toppings) than as the main cheese. I personally prefer any kind of Mexican melting cheese, like Oaxaca or Asadero or maybe even mozzarella if I can’t find the Mexican stuff, because they get really super melty and have a neutral flavor so that the other ingredients (see below) can really sing.
4. Extras: “Extras” are anything else you want on your grilled cheese sandwich, be it bacon or avocado (ooh, or both!!!). This includes the previously mentioned less-than-melty cheeses, like feta or parmesan. This is the part that gets really fun, because you can mix and match whatever you feel like. Brie with honey and figs? Sharp cheddar with leftover brisket and a little mustard? This time, I went with a few little slices of chorizo because chorizo is soooo super packed with flavor, manchego because hard cheeses go really really well with chorizo, and caramelized onions because they make everything better. I’m one of these people that doesn’t really do bacon, so caramelized onions are kind of my bacon.
This grilled cheese sandwich actually ended up being one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I’d ever eaten. I don’t know if it’s just because I slowed down and took the time and care to make it perfect, or if this happened to be the perfect bread-cheese-extras ratio I wanted at that particular moment on that particular day, or if this combination happens to be, in fact, the very best grilled cheese sandwich in the history of time. (It’s probably one of the first two.) Me and my willing associate each ate probably less than one full half a sandwich and were full and satisfied, so unless you have someone in the mix with a particularly big appetite, start everyone off with a half sandwich plus something a little lighter, like carrots and celery sticks or a light salad.
Perfect Grilled Cheese
|Prep time||5 minutes|
|Cook time||30 minutes|
|Total time||35 minutes|
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 onion (sliced)
- 4 slices good, crusty bread
- 2 tablespoons butter (or more, if you like)
- 2oz asadero cheese, in 4 slices (or other neutral flavored melting cheese, like mozzarella)
- 2oz manchego, sliced
- 2oz cooked chorizo (about 1/2 link, sliced)
|Very first thing, heat the oil in a pan or pot over medium low heat (about a 3-4 out of 10) with a lid and add the onions with a little salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. This will take at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare everything else. If using raw chorizo, cook in the oven on a foil lined pan at 350 for about 10-15 minutes. Remove, slice and set aside.|
|Heat a skillet on medium heat (about a 4) and wait until you are sure the pan is preheated. Butter one side of each piece of bread and cook, butter side down, until crispy and brown (about 5-7 minutes). You may need to do this part 2 at a time depending on the size of your pan. While they are cooking, butter the face-up side. When ready, flip the first piece of bread and layer with one asadero slice, about half the manchego, some caramelized onions, half the chorizo slices, another slice of asadero on top, and top it all with another piece of the bread from the skillet cooked side down (inside the sandwich) and press down so it all kind of squishes together. Repeat this with the other sandwich.|
|Cook on this side until the bread becomes golden brown and crispy and the cheese is starting to melt and ooze out the bottom a little bit, about 5-7 minutes. If your bread is starting to burn before the insides are melting, turn down the heat. Carefully flip the sandwich and cook until the other side is brown and crispy, and the insides are all warm and gooey. Cut in half and enjoy!|
Non game substitution: It’s grilled cheese – use whatever you want!
Vegetarian substitution: I suggest caramelized onions on anything. Clearly it’s pretty easy to make a vegetarian grilled cheese sandwich.