I'm going to share a secret technique with you that will change the way you make grilled cheese sandwiches for the rest of your life.
I'm not sharing this technique as a way to make money, I'm sharing it because it results in a flavor/texture experience so sublime that it would be a disservice to humanity to keep it to myself. Read this next bit out loud: "Cleve, you are a true humanitarian."
Your words, not mine. But thank you, I'm just trying to do my part.
Before I proceed, let's all engage in a moment of silence for those who are unable to eat Dairy and Gluten. Their struggle is real.
(respectful silence, head bowed, eyes downcast)
OK, let's proceed.
A grilled cheese sandwich requires three ingredients, the three pillars of Grilled Cheese: bread, cheese, and butter. Some people prefer to use mayonnaise instead of butter, and I respect their choice just like I respect their choice to order steak well-done and dip it in ketchup.
Each of the three pillars are worthy of libraries of their own, but this technique will work with nearly any combination of breads, cheeses, and butter. For this recipe I'm using my trusty crusty bread, sharp cheddar, and salted butter. Simplicity is key, as this trifecta, when executed properly cannot be improved by adding additional flavors.
Before I dive into the technique itself, a word on the Maillard Reaction. The Maillard (pronounced my-YARD) reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that creates the distinctive flavors in browned food. The Maillard Reaction is responsible for the tasty brown crust on your steak, and browned buttered bread and bits of cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich. I find it helpful to think of it as as the flavor fairy.
I've made hundreds of grilled cheese sandwiches, and my favorite bits are always located where some cheese has oozed out and gotten crispy on the hot skillet (maillard reaction!). I wanted that fried cheese flavor in every bite, so I began to experiment with crisping cheese on the outside of my sandwiches. It was delicious, but I missed the flavor and texture of salty butter-fried bread. How could I infuse that amazing fried cheese flavor in every bite without sacrificing any of the other qualities that make grilled cheese sandwiches amazing?
The MÄNNKITCHEN Grilled Cheese Sandwich Hack!
4 slices of bread
4 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 T salted butter, softened.
Yes, you're making two sandwiches. You need two because there is another person in your home that you love-and if there isn't, a second grilled cheese can comfort you.
A word on sliced bread: When making grilled cheese, it's important to have well sliced bread so every bit of the breads surface is in direct contact with your skillet. Unevenly sliced bread will result in uneven contact, reducing browning, flavor, and your happiness.
I prefer grated cheese over sliced, as the increased surface area leads to faster and more complete melting. If you've ever bit into a grilled cheese sandwich and discovered unmelted cheese, you have tasted disappointment.
The MÄNNKITCHEN Grilled Cheese Sandwich Hack
Preheat your skillet on medium heat. Generously butter four slices of bread on one side. Place half of your cheese directly on the skillet in four roughly piece-of-bread shaped piles, and place your four slices of bread (buttered side UP) directly on top of the cheese. One on top of each cheese pile. Fry until the cheese is crispy but not dark, typically 1-2 minutes. Your bread slices will likely get stuck together. This is not a problem, just flip all four over together (may need a männkitchen spatula) and separate them. Immediately place the rest of your cheese on two of the crispy cheese halves, and cover with the remaining halves, cheese-to-cheese-to-cheese. The top side of your grilled cheese will not be finished yet. Reduce heat to med-low and fry until bottom side is browned, then flip and cook until all cheese is melted and the sides are browned to your preference.
Remove from heat, and leave the kitchen. I'm trying to save you from burning your mouth. Leave both sandwiches in the kitchen, and count to 100.
When you've finished the second sandwich (including a portion of the paper towel you held it with) acknowledge that you loved it a little bit more than is probably healthy, and share this technique with the ones you love.