Grilled Cheese

So there’s been a lot of talk going around on the inter-webs these days regarding grilled cheese sandwiches. What kind of artisinal bread, what non-gmo organic cheese, which panini press you should get…

blah blah blah

Here’s the deal: Grilled cheese sandwiches are an easy, satisfying lunch that ANYONE can do with any bread and any cheese. It is about technique. There will be no recipe. I’m here to walk you through it with some straight talk and some downright lousy photography.

The supplies you’ll need are as follows.

• A non-stick pan
• A lid for said pan (it doesn’t have to be an exact match – a plate would do in a pinch)
• A spatula
• A sandwich or other sharp knife (I happened to use a buffet-style slicer but that was because the cheese I was slicing was an ENORMOUS, Costco-size block)
• Sandwich bread (doesn’t matter what kind)
• Cheese
• Butter

Ok. Here we go:

First you preheat your non-stick pan over medium heat. While you do that, slice up some cheese (I tend to use cheddar, but really any good melting cheese will do.) and place it on your sandwich bread. You don’t want to go TOO thick, but really, it isn’t all that important. Don’t grate it. I mean, you CAN if you’d like, but if you do this right its one less thing to wash at the end of the day. You’re going to use the knife for a lot of this anyway. Back to work.

Place another piece of sandwich bread on top. Slap a pat of butter (say that out loud… its fun!) into your pan, swirl it around to coat the pan and wait until it has melted completely. Add your uncooked sandwiches and flatten them with the palm of your hand. (No, I wasn’t being a glutton… this is for me AND our 17 month old son.)

Cut another pat of butter and spread it on the still uncooked side of the sandwich.

Next comes the trick. COVER THE PAN with a lid. The idea here is to allow the heat that is trapped in the pan to melt the cheese as the bread in contact with the pan browns.

Now how long you cook this per side really depends on your stove. You will have to fiddle with your sandwiches and maybe even the heat settings. This will appeal to those of you who habitually mess with your food as it is cooking (usually a really bad idea). Check from time to time to see how the bottom of the sandwich is doing. If it looks like the image below (but not blurry… unless you forgot your glasses), flip and press down on the sandwich with a spatula. Slide the sandwiches around the pan a little to ensure even butter coverage and recover for a few more minutes – checking occasionally that the cheese has completely melted.

When the sandwiches are done  (a good sign is if some of the cheese has oozed out and is sizzling away in the buttery pan) remove to a cutting board, wait 30 seconds to a minute to ensure that all the cheese won’t run out, and cut in half. Pickles and chips go really well with these if you are so inclined. Or tomato soup – ‘tho I’d go with half a sandwich in that case. Milk would be the beverage of choice.

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