For a quick meal, there’s not much better than a hot, viscous grilled cheese sandwich. At least in my book. And today’s the day to celebrate that great American invention! (I’m claiming it for the home team because I can’t find references anywhere
in Google to this morsel’s origination.) (Correction: Here’s a reference, and yes, it’s American!)
So many variations are possible too. Naturally there’s the basic construct, with bread, slices of American or mild Cheddar, and butter. Heated in a skillet or a grill pan and served with cream of tomato soup and you’ve got the traditional meal covered.
But why stop there? Here are some ideas…
Use more than one type of cheese. Sharp Cheddar, Gouda, Swiss, Gruyere, Havarti, Fontina, Asiago; the list goes on and on. If you like the really soft stuff, try some Camembert, Boursault, Brie or Brinza. If you use those, try sprinkling in some feta or blue cheese (like Maytag) to boost the flavor quotient.
Vary the bread. I know, when you were five you wanted Wonder. Maybe even with the crusts cut off. But we’re all adults here now, right? So let’s eat for flavor, at least. Try a ciabatta roll; lots of nice holes for the butter and cheese to ooze into. Or check out an Italian loaf, say with rosemary in it. French baguettes work. Heck, any of the fancy sliced breads will work, or get something fresh from your local bakery and have them slice it for grilled cheese sandwiches. Not too thin, but not Texas Toast thick either. Remember, this sandwich features the cheese, so don’t let the bread be the biggest part. Don’t’ settle for average loaves, though; that’s not in the spirit either.
Now for the rest of the fun: Toppings, jams and the like. Yes, you don’t need to limit this tasty treat to bread and cheese. For instance, try some roasted garlic and caramelized onion jam, like the recipe I recently posted. (You can find it by clicking on the green Pepper Jelly button at the top of the right sidebar here on the Site.) Indeed, almost any jam you like will punch up an ordinary cheese sandwich. You can add savory toppings too, like crunch dill pickle slices or olive tapenade. Experiment with some roasted red peppers. Try some French fried onions; on the side works, but put some in the sandwich for a crunchy surprise.
Put some meat in there! Bacon always works, naturally; Irish bacon’s primo in this application. Pastrami pairs up wonderfully, especially if you toast with rye bread. Mild or spicy, consider some deli-sliced protein to turn everyday into extraordinary.
After you’ve built and toasted the world’s best grilled cheese sandwich, put some good stuff on the plate next to it. I’ve already mentioned soup, the quintessential sidekick. French fries or onion rings work, as do any classy chips. Pretzels of any shape are nice with this hand meal. Cole slaw. Fruit medley. Italian antipasti, or giardiniera. Kosher pickle spears. Sliced tomatoes with basil. The options are endless.
Whatever you choose, be sure to savor this classic meal today. With friends would make it extra-special (even if they don’t pick up the tab) …
Enjoy the (Gooey Grilled Grub) Heat!