Quadrilocheese

America’s Favorite Sandwich

Emma Margulies Grilled Cheese 4_22_15

The grilled cheese sandwich is a staple of American cuisine, ranking high on the list of Important American Contributions to the Culinary Sphere, alongside such greats as the hamburger, key lime pie, and the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

But in my (admittedly biased) opinion, grilled cheese is unmatched in its versatility and appeal. A burger is a burger is a burger, basically, but no two grilled cheeses are alike. A perfect grilled cheese sandwich is a work of art in itself, and today, I’d like to share some delicious secrets of grilled cheesery with you. These are just starting points—I encourage you to explore, experiment, and enjoy at your leisure. The possibilities are endless. As our friend Cady Heron would say, the limit (of how delicious your grilled cheese can be) does not exist.

I won’t bore you with a story of the best grilled cheese I’ve ever had or a cute tale about me as a kid getting mustard all over my favorite white dress. Instead, I’ll leave you with the three keys to any good grilled cheese: butter, press, and cover. That is, butter the outsides of your bread slices evenly and generously, press your sandwich down onto the pan (we even have a special rock in my house reserved for this purpose—it’s big, flat, and heavy, so it functions much like a panini machine), and cover the pan to keep all the good melty heat in.

The following are four options from opposite ends of the grilled cheese spectrum—savory, sweet, breakfasty, fancyish—but they are all equally delicious. Make one every day for a week as a taste test, or make them all for lunch one day and indulge in the best feast of your life.

Mustardy Grilled Cheese

3 tbsp olive oil

Mustard greens, cleaned, stemmed, and roughly chopped

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp butter, room temperature

2 slices bread of your choosing

Coarse ground mustard

Lots of sharp cheddar cheese

Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Add mustard greens, and stir until wilted. Season with salt and pepper, remove from pan, and set aside.

Butter one side of each slice of bread. Smear a spoonful of mustard on the non-buttered side of both slices of bread. Layer with cheddar, adding a layer of greens and an additional layer of cheese on top. Place the other slice of bread on top, and put the sandwich in the pan.

Press down on the sandwich with a spatula, cover the pan, and cook for about three minutes. When the bread is browned, flip the sandwich, and continue cooking for another three minutes, until the other side is browned and the cheese is melty. Remove from pan, slice in half, and enjoy.

Breakfasty Grilled Cheese

2 tbsp butter, room temperature

2 slices bread of your choosing

Lots of gouda

1 egg

½ avocado, sliced

Sriracha to taste

Salt to taste

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place both butter-side-down in pan, and pile one slice with cheese. Cover pan.

While cheese is melting, cook your egg, either boiling or frying. To fry, heat butter in a pan. Crack egg into pan and cover. Cook for about three minutes, until whites are set. Remove from heat. It’s important not to overcook it—you want that oozy yolk dripping down your fingers when you take the first bite, don’t you? If you choose to boil, add a room temperature egg to boiling water, and cook for six minutes. Remove from heat, and shock with cold water. Remove shell, and slice in half before adding to sandwich.

Remove bread, and cheese from pan. Place egg on top of melted cheese. Add avocado, Sriracha, and salt. Place second slice of bread on top and press together.

Figgy Grilled Cheese

2 tbsp butter, room temperature

2 slices sourdough bread

3 dried figs, sliced

2 tbsp walnuts, chopped

Ricotta

Brie, Manchego, or Gruyere cheese (or a mix)

Honey

Salt

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Smear ricotta on the non-buttered side of one of the slices. Top with fig and a sprinkle of walnuts. Top with slices of cheese of your choice. Add a drizzle of honey and salt to taste, and top with other slice of bread.

Press down on the sandwich with a spatula, cover the pan, and cook for about three minutes. When the bread is browned, flip the sandwich, and continue cooking for another three minutes, until other side is browned and cheese is melty. Remove from pan, slice in half, and enjoy.

Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese

2 tbsp olive oil, butter, or a mix

1 yellow onion

2 tbsp white wine, chicken stock, or balsamic vinegar

Salt

1 tbsp butter, room temperature

2 slices French bread

Gruyere cheese, shredded

Melt butter and oil over medium heat. Chop the onions into thin slices, add to pan, and coat with butter. Continue to cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes. Check on them every five minutes or so, stirring to make sure they’re not getting stuck to the bottom. When they are almost finished, add your additional liquid, stir, and then remove from heat. Add salt to taste.

Heat nonstick pan over medium heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Add half the shredded cheese to the non-buttered side of one slice, pile caramelized onions on top, and layer the rest of the cheese on top. Top with the other slice of bread, and place in pan.

Press down on the sandwich with a spatula, cover the pan, and cook for about three minutes. When the bread is browned, flip the sandwich, and continue cooking for another three minutes, until other side is browned and cheese is melty. Remove from pan, slice in half, and enjoy.