Grilled Cheese Sandwich
|Grilled Cheese Sandwich|
|Servings:||1 or more|
For 1 sandwich:
- 1–3 slices of cheese, or shredded to taste
- 2 slices of bread
- Any bread that toasts well: generally white bread (including sourdough).
- margarine can be used, but is not recommended, as direct heating tends to negatively affect the taste of margarine
- other ingredients as necessary (see below).
The key variable is the ratio of cheese to bread; this depends on the thickness and density of the bread, and the amount of cheese used, and varies according to taste; generally more cheese is preferred, so that the bread doesn't overwhelm the cheese.
With presliced bread and cheese, there is very little preparation.
If using grated cheese, which some recommend for more even melting, then one needs to grate the cheese. Especially if mixing the grated cheese with chop onions or other ingredients, it is easiest to grate into a bowl, mix with other ingredients, and then spoon onto sandwiches, otherwise it can be messy.
Buttering the bread makes the outside of the bread brown, rather than dry and burn, and is widely recommended.
Butter the slices of bread, then place butter-side down (the butter is on the outside of the bread), in the pan or on other cooking surface. Follow this by placing the grated cheese or sliced cheese on top, then the other slice of bread, butter-up. Do not place the butter side down on a prep surface, as it will come off and make a mess.
Alternatively, one may melt butter in a pan, and then place the bread on it; when flipping, one should add more butter, then flip the bread.
There are many methods of grilling a sandwich; the main variants are grilling on a stove-top, most common in US, and toasting in an oven, most common in the UK and Australia. There also specialized sandwich toasters or sandwich grills.
Ovens are useful if making multiple sandwiches, rather than grilling one at a time; they also allow one to make open-faced sandwiches.
The goal is to get a nicely browned sandwich with melted cheese in the middle.
The main difficulties are:
- Unmelted or unevenly melted cheese
- Burnt bread
- Soggy bread
To get evenly melted cheese, and avoid burnt bread, cook at low heat (which is a general rule in roasting) – this gives the cheese time to warm up and melt, rather than scorching the bread before the cheese warms up.
If one desires soggy bread, one should melt the butter in a pan, and grill or roast in that. If one desires crisp bread, spread butter on the bread (not on the pan), and toast on a grate or cook in a ridged indoor grill, so the fat runs away.
Simply heat up a skillet, frying pan or griddle (it is best on most stoves to heat on medium), spread the butter on the bread, and place both pieces of bread, butter side down, in the skillet. When the butter sides of both have browned (check periodically), flip one over and place 1-3 slices (this depends on the size of the slices) of cheese on top, and place the other slice of bread on top of the cheese (again, butter side down). At this point, it is advised to compress the sandwich, for example by pressing on it with a spatula. Once the bottom side of the sandwich is browned sufficiently, flip the sandwich over. When both sides are browned, take off heat, cut, and serve.
If you lack a stove, you can prepare a fast and easy version of this sandwich simply with a toaster. This method is good for younger or otherwise inexperienced cooks because it does not require a stove. Take two slices of bread and butter them on both sides (or spread margarine or a similar substitute). Place the double-buttered slices into the toaster and toast until the bread is browned. Remove the two hot, crispy slices of toast from the toaster and place a slice of cheese between them. The cheese melts quickly. Cut and serve immediately. If desired, place the entire sandwich back into one slot of the toaster to melt the cheese even further.
To toast in an oven, heat oven to 150° Celsius (or 300° Fahrenheit), then place pan with sandwiches in, toast for 10–15 minutes, flip, and toast another 5–10 minutes, to taste.
One can also make open-faced sandwiches; in these, the exposed cheese tends to puff and bubble. If one only heats from above (via radiant heat), one melts the cheese and leaves the bread untoasted or lightly toasted, which may be desired, but generally one should have heat from both sides.
Sandwich toaster or grill
There are a variety of specialized Sandwich toaster and general-purpose indoor grills (aka, sandwich press, panini press).
These have the advantages of:
- not needing to flip
- sealing in sandwich / no drips (in specialized toasters)
- attractive browning marks
- “Butter the bread rather than the skillet, grate the cheese, and cook over low heat for sandwiches with a lacy-crisp exterior and a tender, oozing interior.” (Cooks, 1998)
There are three main classes of variations:
- spreads, added to inside of bread
- fillings, large sandwich ingredients forming a layer
- mix-ins, mixed into (shredded) cheese
Spread on inside of one or (better) both slices of bread before adding the fillings:
- mayonnaise and a little mustard (mix in a cup)
- mayonnaise and BBQ sauce.
- a garlic-flavored spread
One can layer other ingredients; this works particularly well with slices of cheese.
- Place 1 or 2 slices of ham or seeded fresh tomato inside the sandwich.
- Use slices of cheddar cheese and some shredded pork rib meat.
- For a pizza-like variant, spread ketchup on both pieces of bread, add cheese and some slices of salami.
Mixed with cheese
It is easiest to mix ingredients into the cheese if it is shredded, rather than in slices. Common mix-ins include:
- diced raw onion, or other vegetables of the allium]genus, such as garlic, leeks, or shallots
- few sweet pickles
- crumbled bacon
One can also mix in or sprinkle spices, such as:
- Kappacasein of Borough Market uses cheddar cheese, sourdough bread, and mixes in onions, leek, and garlic. Bread is sliced ~6~8 mm, and cooked in a flat sandwich press, until entire surface is crisp.
- It is common practice at the Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Scout Reservation in Pearson, WI to substitute a garlic-flavored spread for the butter.
It is often served with tomato soup.