I know. You can make grilled cheese. You don’t need a recipe. Don’t worry, I won’t give you one. Foods as simple as this do not need protracted, highfalutin measurements. We all survived on grilled cheese and ramen freshman year of college, and even if you can’t cook anything, you can cook grilled cheese. Right? Right.
So why am I posting about this? Because too many people either overdo or underdo grilled cheese. There are two schools of thought, here – the Kraft slices on squooshy supermarket bread, and the fig-and-brie on artisan pesto loaf. Well, I think you’re both crazy. Kraft slices are not cheese, they are plastic. (Disagree? Write your own blog.) You could probably convince me on the figs, but when I’m talking about grilled cheese, I’m talking about Tuesday night dinner-snack, and I’d rather take the pesto loaf into work the next day to impress my colleagues. Here’s what I do. It’s what you should do, too.
Take two slices of decent bread. Butter one, just on the inside. You’re already going to have fat in the pan – let’s not overdo it by buttering the outside, too. Then put down a thin layer of mustard. I like stone-ground, but whatever you have is fine. Then add a little bit of shredded cheese – Swiss, Gruyere, some good white cheddar? If it’s shredded it will melt much more easily and evenly than if you just slice it off the block, and you’ll have more control over how much you use, too. You’ll want it to melt quickly, because you’re not going to have this sandwich on the heat for very long. Don’t pile this up, either – you don’t want gobs of cheese oozing out. Oozing cheese is good in a casserole, not so good running down the back of your hand. Next put down a couple of slices of tomato with the seed goop removed. This will make a huge difference in the sloppiness factor. Now you can, if you like, add a little parmesan or garlic powder (no, I don’t have any problems with garlic powder, as long as you’re not trying to substitute it for real garlic), but don’t get crazy. Cover it up with just a little more shredded cheese, then close the sandwich.
Heat butter and maybe a little olive oil in a pan to medium high. When a drop of water sizzles lightly in the pan, put the sandwich in and cover. This will keep the heat in to melt the cheese. Check on it every minute or so, and when it’s nicely browned on the bottom, flip it and cook, uncovered, until browned on the other side. Turn it out onto a cutting board. You’ve got to be decisive about cutting this beautiful thing – position a big knife over the center and whack it straight down. This will keep the bread from sliding all over the melted cheese. Eat it and then go make yourself another one.