Sunday, April 12, 2015

Grilled Cheese Please!

Happy #NationalGrilledCheeseSandwichDay from your favorite vegan blog! @daiyafoods @gardein

Growing up, I was actually not a fan of grilled cheese sandwiches. Confession: I straight up HATED them! (yeah, yeah.. I was the weird kid that preferred steamed broccoli over a sandwich made of cheese... A vegan in the making, maybe?) But... I had a knack for making them.  True perfection. My dad still to this day asks me to make his grilled cheese sandwiches! Perfectly golden browned, melty cheese, it doesn't seem too hard BUT, I've got some tips that will make your grilled cheeses perfect every time.



*Update: I finally fell in love with grilled cheese in 2012, when I first tried Daiya's vegan cheese! Now, I make them all the time and have some special recipes at the end of this post so, GO STOCK UP ON DAIYA, not just the slices, get the wedges and some cream cheese too! Go ahead... I'll wait.... 

So, What makes the perfect grilled cheese...?  





(If you want to weigh in on future polls like this, follow me on twitter/instagram: @tastykaitis and on facebook: facebook.com/tastykaitis)




From SeriousEats
Playing on the web, I stumbled across a list that states "A grilled cheese MUST...".  While I'm not one to follow food rules, I thought that their musts were interesting and thus, wanted to share them with you. 
  • First let me say in my opinion no sandwich ever needs to be closed! Open-faced or "toasts" are totally fair game! (I'm not just saying this because I have some below) Sometimes I like making sandwiches fancier by adding silverware!
  • "Griddled on BOTH sides"... not a terrible idea. But it's not a MUST! 
  • "Have cheese as primary ingredient. [No overwhelming extras]" Well DUHHHH! It's called a Grilled Cheese! 
  • "Crust-on loaves... do not qualify."  Who died and made you in charge of grilled cheese? What if I like to extra crispy, crouton-y crunch of crust-on bread?
  • "...served hot all the way through..." I feel like this is a given. Who wants pieces of un-melted cheese and or hot melty cheese on cold extras?
  • "Be cooked on a flat, greased surface." I agree that it should be cooked on a stove and not baked... but we'll address my secret ingredient for a delicious, crunchy, golden grilled cheese in a minute... Pause, why can't we deep fry the grilled cheese? That. Would. Be. EPIC!!!!
I also found another website, with perhaps a little more "merit" that disagrees with a few of these points that SeriousEats.com made. Specifically the point about bread. 
From GCA
I say this site has more "merit" not because I agree with creative bread-age but... well, it's the freakin' Grilled Cheese Academy website! (note: as noted on their website, it is not an actual culinary school or "establishment of higher learning"... but it is a trademark of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board) What else do they suggest...?






Both of these tips, I definitely agree with! They also suggest pressing the sammie to ensure even cheese spreadage. But I have a way that doesn't require pressing... plus I think that pressing ruins the amount of bread to cheese ratio, UNLESS you have a lot of extras and need to smush it to fit in your mouth like Dagwood here... (Or do the "hunch" -Guy Fieri) 

So that's what the "experts" have to say... But what about you?! I asked on my Social Media platforms and got a couple "Purest" (just cheese and bread) responses:


Kevin from NC says, 
"Evenly toasted/grilled bread (+bread with flavor) for crunch, and an equally enjoyable cheese with flavor that melts smooth (texture contrast with bread). Lastly, the right ratio: not so much bread as to dwarf the taste of cheese, nor so much cheese as to be too messy or make you sick."
And his opinion on gourmet grilled cheese vs the purest?
"Generally [I'm] a purest who enjoys a nice side of soup with it, but gourmet is enjoyable if the combinations are done correctly. Too often, though, gourmet is just a slopfest of things thrown in, then the sandwich falls apart on the first bite. For example, avocado is wonderful, but if it's sliced in large chunks, those'll pop right out. Hate that. HATE."
Great feedback! Thanks Kevin! This definitely stuck in my head when I started working on some recipes!  What else?

Neil from VA agrees:
"Has to be the right cheese to bread ratio, I would say. But I've only had basic grilled cheeses"
 So... How do I make my "famous" grilled cheese sandwiches?
  • Bread: Sourdough! The texture makes for a a great crunchy outside and a chewy inside that can stand up to the gooey-ness of the cheese. Regular sandwich bread is too soft and can't handle being eaten... 
  • Cheese: For a standard grilled cheese, I have to go with Daiya's cheddar slices... 2 slices! And listen, your cheese doesn't necessarily have to look pretty when you lay it on your bread... it's going to melt so RIP IT UP! and make sure that every centimeter of that bread is covered! (This doesn't necessarily apply to the gourmet grilled cheeses because they have more stuff to cover the bread. 
  • Butter: NO WAY!!! My secret (and don't tell my dad because he is not typically a fan of this condiment)... Mayo! Yup that's right, I'm a big fan of Hampton Creek's Just Mayo. Why? Think about French Toast... the toast is dipped in a mixture of egg, oil and some spices, and the crust that ensues is simply delectable! Same thing applies here. Even browning, super crispy and I think it's less greasy.
  • Temperature and Speed: Like great BBQ, go low and slow. This allows time for your cheese to actually melt and the crust to build without burning.
  • Pan: Go non-stick. A lot of people think cast iron is the way to go BUT it actually has a bigger chance of causing you trouble when it comes time to flip your sandwich. No Bueno!
2- 1/4" slices Sourdough Bread
2 slices Daiya Cheddar Slices
2 TBS Hampton Creek Just Mayo (try their garlic one!)

I'm pretty sure everyone knows how to assemble a grilled cheese sandwich... No? 


Cheese goes between the 2 slices of bread.  Slather the outside of the bread with a tablespoon of mayo. Place, mayo side down, into a nonstick pan on medium-low heat.  Spread remaining mayo onto the top of your sandwich. After about 3-5 minutes, flip the sandwich. NOTE: this is not a hamburger... You can flip it a few times to achieve the color and crust you want! 

Serve with tomato soup, my Roasted Veggie Soup, or just a side of ketchup... (I like to add some sriracha to my ketchup!)
See Grilled Cheese Please (part 2) for my Gourmet Grilled Cheeses! 

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