Our second guest chick! Please welcome Jenn Mercer, a French-to-English translator who prefers to let other people make French food for her – preferably in France… le sigh… and who totally wins at making grilled cheese sandwiches. Find out more about Jenn at www.jennmercer.com.
How to Make the World’s Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Exposing Vile Heresies that Threaten the Good Things in Life
The Secret Ingredient is Butter
I will attempt to be brief. I am not a master chef, but it has come to my attention that some people (namely my sister) have been attempting to brainwash others (namely my poor nephew who is a boy who needs a sandwich if ever there was one) into believing that a grilled cheese sandwich is a concoction that can be made by zapping bread and American cheese in a microwave. Look, it is not like it is hard to make a grilled cheese sandwich. It is even a fairly quick process if you use my patented method for quick and authentic grilled cheese sandwiches.
Ingredients (No fancy mise en place necessary, just know if you have these):
1. Bread: whole wheat, white, pumpernickel, whatever floats your boat.
2. Cheese: preferably cheddar, but it could also be Swiss, Colby Jack, Havarti – really whatever you have in your fridge as long as it is CHEESE, not cheese food or American cheese.
3. Butter: <- Reread this. You will notice it does not say “butter or margarine.” This is our secret ingredient. The thing that all makes the magic happen. If you are vegan or lactose intolerant, um, I am sure you have found some sort of substitute, so have fun with that.
That’s it. You can add lunchmeat, onions, bacon, etc, but I will warn you that the single-digit age group frowns on such things.
Put skillet on burner. Turn burner on – fairly high if you have an electric cooktop and then turn it down if the butter starts smoking. If you have gas burners, all I know is that they cook faster and there is a small, but non-zero chance, that you could make your house explode. Improvise.
Get the butter out of the fridge and put some in the pan. (SOME. Ok, probably a teaspoon to a tablespoon per sandwich.)
Put one slice of bread in the pan on top of the melted butter PER SANDWICH. If you want to get really fancy you can put the slices of bread for the tops off to one side.
Reduce the heat in the pan. Use a lower temperature if the cheese in the next step is not pre-sliced.
Get the cheese out of the fridge. Slice it if it needs slicing. Use your own discretion here.
Add cheese to the slice of bread already in the pan. (This is where you can add your wild and crazy additional ingredients as well. Make sure to add cheese above and below the extra ingredients as an adhesive.)
Peek at the bottom side of the bread to check for desired toastiness (with a spatula! I deny all liability for wounds from stupidity).
Push your slices of bread delicately to one side of the pan (or roughly, I mean, it’s your sandwich).
Add another teaspoon to tablespoon of butter per sandwich to the pan.
Add the second slice of bread on top of each sandwich.
Flip the sandwich onto the newly melted butter. If it falls apart, moosh it back together and explain to any small children that this is a traditional technique and makes everything taste better.
Turn the heat up at this point if you like well-carbonized sandwiches or leave at a lower temperature for the feeble and/or young.
Leave the area of the stove and gather anything else you need to actually eat: plates, drinks, chips, starving children, etc. (It might be important to note at this point that I kind of like my sandwiches burnt.)
Remove nicely toasted sandwiches from pan and place on plates. (Tip: if the sandwich is too toasted for your audience, flip it over to the less toasted side – plating is everything!)
Bring the plates to the table where everything else is already ready. (You are so clever!)
Eat the sandwiches. Enjoy the sandwiches. Reflect upon how much nicer life is with a warm toasty sandwich than soulless zapped bread. Ta-da!
Now for the true verdict – was my nephew afraid of these strange crunchy sandwiches? No he was not. Instead, he begged me to send his mom instructions to make a grilled cheese sandwich just like “Auntie Jenn” makes them. I win. I totally win for all time. Sorry, I’m an adult. I am beyond petty sibling rivalries (but I still win).
Do you have a dish that gives you the win in the game of sibling culinary rivalry?