Anyone who has ever tasted a slice of American cheese can testify to the fact that it is a pretty bland concoction. Great for babies, just learning to eat solid foods. Palatable for someone with an upset stomach or other illness. But tasty? Not so much.
Why then has the grilled cheese sandwich become such a mainstay in our society? Probably because of those memories of eating it for lunch as a child, with a bowl of tomato soup, or perhaps eating it when you were sick. It’s comfort food, pure and simple.
So let’s discuss some ways to “spice up” this comfort food to make it delicious as well. Of course, adding more ingredients would do the trick, like ham-and-cheese, turkey-and-cheese, etc. But that’s cheating!! Let’s just stick with plain ole’ cheese and bread and see what we can do to make it better!
Yes, tradition says that you make a grilled cheese sandwich with American cheese (unless you live in the UK, where they prefer Cheddar). But there are several other cheeses which work wonderfully in a grilled cheese sandwich, like Cheddar, Gouda and Swiss, for example. A simple substitute is Kraft’s Deli Deluxe Sharp Cheddar cheese. Packaged just like their American cheese, it is processed to look just like their American cheese, but it is much more flavorful.
Anyone who saw “The Devil Wears Prada” knows that the heroine’s boyfriend made her a grilled Jarlsburg cheese sandwich every evening when she came home from work. I had never heard of Jarlsburg before seeing this movie, but when I saw it in the store, I had to try it. Delicious!! Jarlsburg is a Swiss-like cheese and it is absolutely yummy when it is grilled.
Ok, this is a slam-dunk. Add flavor to a grilled cheese sandwich by making it on a more flavorful bread. Sourdough is “to-die-for”. Rye is tasty, too. Use your imagination!
I don’t know about you, but I butter my bread before grilling a cheese sandwich. I can’t say that I’ve tried any other types of oils personally … anyone want to try peanut butter and get back to me on how it tasted? But I do add things to the butter. My favorite – please don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – is to mix the butter with even parts garlic salt and cinnamon sugar. Really changes the flavor of even the blandest grilled cheese sandwich. Other things I’ve added to the butter with reasonably successful results include honey (just a touch or it gets really messy!), steak sauce, taco seasoning, dried onions, and Parmesan cheese. Ok, call me crazy, but I love grilled cheese sandwiches and I hate the taste of a plain old American cheese on white bread grilled cheese sandwich!!
Fry it in a pan. Toast it in the oven. Plop it in a waffle maker or grill. A little aluminum foil and you can even cook it outdoors “on the barbie”l!
Hope my ideas have given you a few of your own. Please share them with everyone in the Comments section below!