What a great idea! Amid the stay-home drudgery of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are graced with a blessing: It’s National Grilled Cheese Day. We can get the whole family involved in the celebration and get creative while varying our lock down diet while de-stressing with a classic comfort food…
Rosie the Riveter makes her lunch on the cover of Argosy Magazine
during the Second World War: Grilled Cheese has always
always been a familiar comfort in stressful times…
Before we start, I want to mention that April is also National Grilled Cheese Month, so we can extend the celebration as long as we want! I have data-mined some legacy posts from the FFB to remind you of all the variations you can make on the Classic Grilled Cheese, and I’ll provide some tips to help you produce the perfect Grilled Cheese every time.
Where the Grilled Cheese fits in…
The incomparable Monte Cristo Grilled Cheese
I posted a detailed history and genealogy of the Grilled Cheese back in September 2017. A little research was all it took to show how universal the Grilled Cheese is across the world’s cuisines.
The Croque Monsieur, the Monte Cristo (above), The Panini, the Reuben and the Louisville Hot Brown especially deserve your effort to Google their classic recipes. But feel free to try some of the more exotic variants listed in the post!
The Classic Rules…
But there are some hard-and-fast rules for making the Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
- Butter the outside of the bread slices.
- Second, heat the pan to medium before placing the Sandwich in it. It will take longer to brown at Medium than at med-high, but you won’t risk burning it!
- Use a good Melting Cheese. Cheddar, Jack, Gouda, Fontina and many others can fill the bill, but purists insist on one or two slices of good old orange American (Processed) Cheese.
- Fry/grill the Sandwich just until it’s golden on both sides and the Cheese inside has melted, gently pressing the sandwich onto the pan (or grill plate or Pannini press, or whatever) to get the right crispy finish on the bread.
- Serve only with plain Ketchup for dipping or a bowl of Tomato Soup.
Some tips for great amped-up Grilled Cheese!
I would first point you to my Valentine’s Day post which suggested ‘doing it up to the hilt’. (See the subhead For Instance, about half way down the page.) Here’s a quick guide to developing your Grilled Cheese sense; a feel for the food which will let your imagination suggest an unending stream of great, yummy, wild & crazy Grilled Cheese ideas.
- Change up the Bread
- Change up the Cheese
- Use a blend of Cheeses
- Add Bacon, Cold Cuts, Sautéed Veggies, Hot Peppers or other stuff
- Try Mac & Cheese between the Bread
- Set the Ketchup aside and try other Condiments. Certain members of my extended family to whom I no longer talk say Mayo is the only way to go. And I know some Grilled Cheese aficionados who swear by Mustard and consider Ketchup fans barbarians!
Think outside the bread!
There’s more to Grilled Cheese than a slice of ‘American’ between two slices of Bread – Much, MUCH more! Wikipedia, in fact, lists no fewer than a dozen ‘signature’ Grilled Cheese variants from countries in every hemisphere; from Bruschetta to Welsh Rarebit.
What qualifies as ‘Grilled Cheese’ in Mexico, you ask, thinking you’ve got me? The Quesadilla. How about the East European state of Georgia? The Khahachapuri. Greece? Fried Halloumi Cheese on Toast. The list is endlessly, delightfully surprising.
That should be enough to keep you busy…
… At least until the end of the month!
~ Maggie J.