Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Grilled Cheese with Imagination

For many when you mention "Grilled Cheese Sandwich" they immediately think of white bread with Kraft cheese slices between 2 pieces of bread.  There's nothing wrong with that picture but there is more to grilled cheese sandwiches.

In fact, I know of chefs that believe you can only use sliced sandwich white bread in making a grilled cheese.  For children, white bread and Kraft singles work very well.  But what about something more adult?

I've mentioned in my cookbook "More Than Your First Cookbook" and in this food blog that you are only limited in cooking by your imagination and taste buds.  So let's be inventive in how we approach our "Adult Styled Grilled Cheese Sandwiches" today.

So to start, let's think bread.  As I stated earlier, there is nothing wrong with using white sandwich bread that comes pre-sliced.  In fact, it can be a good start.  But don't be afraid to try other breads.  If there is a good bakery in your town, try some of their best selling breads.  Between bakeries, grocery stores and even making your own bread, you have so many good options to use as the base of your "Signature Grilled Cheese Sandwich."

Next comes the "Cheese" and again you have great choices here.  Hey, there is nothing wrong with the processed cheeses like Kraft singles, Velveeta or even Cheese Whiz.  I will actually use them in combination with other cheeses.  I like getting flavor from using 2 or 3 different cheeses on my grilled sandwiches.  One of my favorites to use is Kraft's Pimento Cheese Spread.  It just adds a new dimension to the sandwich.

The biggest thing you want to think about with cheese is do they melt well?  Some cheeses are not great for melting but it doesn't mean you can't use them in your sandwich.  You just have to think about how it will work with the other ingredients.

There are purists out there on whether you can use slices or shredded cheese in making a great grilled sandwich.  The truth is you can use either or both in making a grilled cheese.  Now they do melt differently so take that in mind as you assemble your creation.

In making an adult version, you can put more ingredients between the bread slices than just cheese.  I'm going to mention just a few ideas for you but there truly is no limit.  Have you tried or thought of using meats like bacon, pulled pork, sliced beef, chicken, deli meats, cold-cuts or even fish and seafood?  How about sliced tomatoes, avocados, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms or sliced apples?  Hopefully this gets you thinking.

Another debate with grilled sandwiches has to do with butter.  Do you spread the butter on the outside of the bread slices?  Or do you melt the butter in the pan you are using and brown them that way?  Each works well really so it comes down to personal preference.

The last important piece is the cooking.  Do you use a high heat or a low heat?  Well actually the low heat works best.  The idea with a grilled cheese sandwich is to have a nicely browned outside to the bread with a perfectly melted cheesy inside.  High heat tens to give you a dark outside and un-melted cheese inside.  The low heat gives you that beautiful combination but it takes a little patience.  Now by low heat, I'm talking medium-low.  Remember to get the best results, pre-heat the pan.  If you are using the butter in the pan method, melt the butter after the pan is heated.  Then when it is bubbling a little, add the sandwich to the pan.

I could go on for much longer on this subject but I think you get the idea.  Besides, as I stated earlier it's your imagination and taste-buds that need to develop that culinary masterpiece.  So get to work.

I have a couple of my creations for you this week.  Tomorrow is the "Caramelized Onion  & Mushroom Grilled Cheese" recipe.  On Thursday I have a "Pulled Pork & Jelly Grilled Cheese" for you to try.  Yes, I did say jelly.  Actually I used preserves for this recipe.  You'll be surprised at how it adds to the taste.

So "Happy Cooking" until next week.  Please let me know what think of my sandwich creations and help spread the word about my food blog.  Thank you.

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