My Best Grilled Cheese

April 10, 2013 | By | COMMENTS

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This post is sponsored by Wisconsin Cheese which is hosting The 2013 Grilled Cheese Academy Recipe Showdown where you can win a $4,000 Gourmet Kitchenware Package. What really got me excited to participate was the opportunity for me to come up with the best grilled cheese I know how to make. And while I’ve made gourmet grilled cheese on my Gourmet Grilled Cheese night, I’ve never mastered the straightforward all-American grilled cheese. Until now.

Let’s start with the bread. I put a lot of thought into the bread. Sourdough seemed too fancy; I wanted something that harkened back to the kind of grilled cheese we ate as children but slightly elevated. Good white bread would be a good choice but an even better choice occurred to me when I remembered that Nancy Silverton uses brioche to make bread crumbs because of the “butter content.” Brioche would make a killer grilled cheese.

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My grocery store doesn’t sell brioche, but they sold something called “butter bread” which, when I read the ingredients, seemed to mimic what goes into brioche. I sliced it somewhat thinly, on an angle, not wanting the grilled cheese to be too bready.

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As for the cheese itself, I had a two-pronged strategy: 1. Sharp grated cheddar (Wisconsin cheese would be a good choice here); and 2. (And this, I hope, is a stroke of genius) Pimento cheese.

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The first would signal that this is a good old-fashioned grilled cheese (yielding the right color); the 2nd would add a mysterious punch from the peppers and the creamy, artery-clogging mayonnaise. I shmeared the pimento on the bread and piled the cheddar on the other side.

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At Craig’s request, I added sliced tomato with a little bit of salt.

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A generous dollop of butter went into a hot non-stick skillet:

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When the foam subsided, and the butter was hot, I employed a curious technique: I added the sandwich, rubbed it in the melted butter and immediately flipped it. The idea was to coat one side with some of the butter and to coat the other side with the rest of the butter. If I’d just fried that one side, by the time I flipped it, there wouldn’t be any butter left in the pan and I’d have to add more. I have to say, this technique worked really well.

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See how the bread’s coated in butter on top, but it’s the other side that’s frying in butter? That way, when I flipped it again, that top side would get a good fry too. Which is exactly what happened.

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My only mistake was keeping the heat too high. I should’ve lowered it after the first flip so the cheese had time to melt. I solved that problem by covering the pan with the lid but I had to act quickly before the bread burned. Still, things came out pretty great.

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There’s a considerable ooze factor. And I freshened things up by serving a cucumber/onion salad on the side (just sliced cucumber, yellow onion, salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar, red wine vinegar, olive oil). It was a good acidic foil to the buttery, fatty grilled cheese.

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But what a grilled cheese it was! I said to Craig, who got his own version of this, that this was one of the best grilled cheeses I’ve had. The bread really made it sing (challah would work nicely too) and the pimento cheese took it over the edge.

Now it’s your turn! Head over to the Grilled Cheese Academy and submit your most creative and unique grilled cheese recipe and win big prizes. Since I sent you, I hope you’ll split your winnings with me. It’s only fair.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ryanfinley Ryan Finley

    Trying putting a sprinkling of shredded cheese *outside* the bread, and you’ll have extra crunch…nothing like crispy cheese!!

  • Caroline

    Loving your frequent posts, Adam!

  • Sara Chatfield

    Mmmm, fantastic…definitely the right combination of cheese! I love tomato on my grilled cheese as well.

  • Mike

    I agree!

  • Matt

    In addition to that, I’ve also read that using mayo in place of butter on the outside of the bread can be pretty darn good, too.

  • http://www.thepickygirl.com Jenn

    I thought the same thing!

  • Els Vuijsters

    Fabulous, absolute magic….you did use some good madness for this sandwich, l-o-v-e-d it, made some homemade chips to go with it and had a cup of watercress soup, double chocolate brownie for desert…I am in heaven! Thank you, I do enjoy, no, love all your stories and recipes, thank you, you made a Dutch girl happy once more…..

  • Kristan

    I love pimento cheese in a grilled cheese sammi! I also LOVE your idea of melting the butter, soaking one side then immediately flipping it. I always have the problem of the butter being gone by the time I make a flip that I have to add more, which sometimes makes it too soggy. I slapped my forehead when I read your idea, I should have been doing that all along! Thanks!! :)

  • Kristan

    Yes! This is a great idea! I’ve used shredded parm or romano, mixed it with soft butter then spread it on the bread before putting it in the pan. Really yummy.

  • Kirk

    I like your recipe. I would only add one thing. Clarified butter or Ghee instead of regular butter. It is easy to spread on the bread first and doesn’t burn. I even toast both sides at once with the cheese on one side, put it together and flip quick for the finish.

  • kath the cook

    Looks yummy…. but I can’t believe you didn’t make your own pimento cheese. So simple – grate sharp cheddar, some bottled pimentos, little bit of garlic powder, s & p, and mayo. Easy cheesy! try it

  • Kathleen Neumark

    Aww, crud. The best one I’ve made was with goat cheese, which isn’t on their list of cheeses. Nobody makes goat cheese in Wisconsin?

  • cloverleaf

    Grilled cheese was one of the first things taught in Foods 1 when I was in the seventh grade. We buttered the outside of the bread instead of melting butter in the pan, which assured a nice golden brown on each side and allowed plenty of time for the cheese to melt. Now, I like to spread mayo on the outside then cook it in a nano-ceramic nonstick pan. I like cheddar, but I really like Swiss or gruyere on rye with sautéed mushrooms. Love your blog Adam!

  • deanna

    I must respectfully disagree that this is your best grilled cheese. You can do better.

    Grilled cheese needs the outside of the bread to be spread with butter, then the sandwich is put in the pan. I’ve made grilled cheese your way, with the butter in the pan, and it is never as good.

    The best grilled cheese is: aged cheddar, dijon mustard, sauteed shallots, on sourdough that’s been buttered on the outside before frying. Trust me. Try it!

  • Kimberly

    I have to echo the person (or people, didn’t read all the comments, sorry) who said that you have to butter the bread, not the pan. Silly rabbit, everyone knows that. Even Rachael Ray figured that one out a few years ago. I couldn’t believe it when she “realized” that it would be a good way to go. It’s the way we’ve always done it in my family and is definitely the way to go!

  • ag

    i thought you had a mayo aversion. pimento cheese?

  • Amazonite

    I do my sandwiches with the butter-flipping thing the same way! I used to butter the bread, but if you don’t have softened butter (or aren’t willing to wait for it) this works best. I don’t think you need to use quite as much butter either.