If this CafeMom discussion about how to make a grilled cheese sandwich is any indication, there are as many ways to make that sandwich as there are ways to skin a cat. And that makes sense. We all have different ideas about what makes the "perfect" grilled cheese sandwich -- and what qualifies as a "good-enough" sandwich.
But I think most of us like ours golden and crispy on the outside, soft and melty on the inside, and not too greasy with butter. That's what I consider the ideal, anyway. So here's a few tips for what I think makes a darn-good, family-pleasing, classic grilled cheese sandwich.
1. Warm griddle. Don't turn the heat up high or you could end up with burned bread and unmelted cheese. Sadness! I know most of you know this already, but just in case: Medium low is the way to go.
2. I love cast iron. I know folks love their non-stick. I just want to put in a good word for cast iron griddles. Bread browns better on it, and if you take good care of it, it's also non-stick.
3. Butter the bread. I think even if you're using a non-stick pan, a little bit of butter gives your bread a more golden crunch. Spread on a thin layer on each outer side so it doesn't turn out greasy. Unless you like greasy -- some moments in life just call for a greasy sandwich.
4. Cooking time depends on the cheese. American cheese slices will take less time to melt than harder cheese like cheddar. But figure a minute or two on each side, give or take.
5. Cover while you cook. I'll put a glass lid over my griddle to help the cheese melt faster without burning the bread. Just don't wander away when you do that. (See my last tip.)
6. DIY panini. Don't have a sandwich press? Me neither. But if you happen to have two griddles, you can kind of fake it. Heat both, one on high. Start the sandwich on one side on the lower-heated griddle and put the hotter griddle on top. Press down while it cooks. I recommend doing this only with thick slices of bread -- otherwise, you might as well just make a quesadilla.
7. Give the sandwich your undivided attention. HAHAHAHAHA! I almost never do that. This is the hardest thing about cooking -- NOT doing anything else (helping with homework, throwing clothes in the dryer, answering a work email) at the same time. As soon as you figure this out, could you please let me know? Because I don't know how to do that. And I burn way too many grilled cheese sandwiches.
Do you have any tips for making a grilled cheese sandwich just the way you like it?
Image via Maggie Hoffman/Flickr