kitchen 101: how to make a perfect grilled cheese sandwich
Confession time, my friends: up until about three years I was the worst grilled cheese maker on the planet. I almost always burned them. And on the rare chance that I didn’t burn it, I never could get the cheese to melt properly. Or the sandwich would slide apart. Basically, I was a total culinary failure. I mean, who in the world can’t make a grilled cheese? Well, I couldn’t.
But now? Now, I’ve mastered the art of the perfect grilled cheese.
It turns out, the problem wasn’t my pan, my stove or my ingredients, the problem was me. And my ever-prominent lack of patience. That’s the true key to the perfect grilled cheese—patience. And I guess maybe I just had to get a little bit older before I had the patience to make it work.
So now that you’re totally hungry and craving an ooey-gooey grilled cheese, let’s make one.
Start over at the stove. Pull out your favorite skillet (non-stick is good, if you’re inclined to that sort of thing). And turn your burner onto low. Almost as low as it goes. I turned mine to the notch just above the lowest setting.
I’m a grilled cheese purist. My grilled cheeses consist of three things—cheese (duh), bread and butter. But if you the kind that sides with El Babyface-o, you can feel free to gather any other foods you’d like smothered in melty, gooey cheese. I hear that whole newfangled bacon thing is delicious.
You’ll want to prepare the mise en place before your bread ever touches the skillet. I typically use sharp cheddar cheese for my grilled cheeses—the sharper the better. But this time I used colby jack and cheddar. I like using thick cuts of cheese because I want that sucker to be gooey! I also use about two ounces of cheese per sandwich. Use more or less depending on your cheese-loving factor.
No, that’s not a euphemism. Literally, butter your bread. Sometimes I use Earth Balance, sometimes I use regular ole butter, but I always put about a teaspoon on one side of each slice of bread. Spread it out well and cover the whole side.
First I put down one slice of bread, butter-side down into the hot skillet. Then I layer the cheese on evenly and then the second slice down butter-side up.
Yup. Here’s where the patience part comes in. Step away. Step. Away. You’ll be tempted to turn up the heat. Nothing will look like it’s happening. If you’re like me, you’ll get antsy. You want your grilled cheese NOW. Just don’t. Don’t touch it for at least five minutes. And usually closer to 10. Once the cheese starts to look like it’s beginning to melt, you can bring in a spatula and lift up on the bottom to check how browned it is. If it’s browned to your liking, you can flip. If not? Go back to waiting until it is.
Using a nicely-sized spatula, flip the sandwich over. And the we’re gonna repeat the same patience-test with the flip side. Although, this time you don’t have to be as patient. By this point, the cheese should be mostly melted, you’re just looking to get that other side nice and crunchy and toasted. It usually takes about five minutes. And by the end of that five minutes, you have the gooeiest, cheesiest little bit of yum you’ve ever seen.
Then you can slice it up (or not) and serve it alongside your favorite soup or eat it straight-up if you’re feeling simplistic. Yum! This is definitely my favorite lunch.