Ok, so I realize that for most people, a grilled cheese sandwich is one of the first “recipes” that we learn to make by ourselves. But do any of us move beyond the basics? Here at the Cream Top Shop, we have a whole menu of really great grilled cheese sandwiches that we can cook up for you if you visit, but I felt like it was time to share our recipe for putting it together at home.
This recipe is really more of a method than a strict set of guidelines. Start with some really good bread. I know, you thought you were here for a love letter to my favorite cheese to put in a sandwich, and we’ll get to that. But the bread is what can make or break a great sandwich. Too soft and the bread practically disappears leaving you with a mush mess. Too crusty and it becomes a feat of engineering just to enjoy the food. I really like the traditional European loaves that the Bakehouse specializes in. The flavors from the slow fermentation process really pop when you grill these breads! Farm Bread and the Sesame Semolina are my two favorites to use for a really great grilled cheese, with the perfect mix of crust and crumb.
Once you have determined your bread, now it’s time to contemplate the cheese. As the name implies, the cheese in a really great grilled cheese is the star of the show! This is a great time to showcase cheeses that have intense flavors paired with a milder melting cheese. Parmigiano Reggiano & Fresh Mozzarella, Aged Gruyere & Baby Swiss, I could list out pairs for a while, but you get the idea. A more aged or intense cheese will bring a big punch of flavor and the younger cheese brings it’s melting oozy-ness for the perfect balance.
Last but not least are the spreads and produce that you can add to create texture and flavor combinations to swoon for. I love to switch up ingredients based on what’s fresh at the Farmer’s Market this week – as I’m writing we are in the middle of Michigan’s very short tomato season. Slices of fresh tomato make a great addition, or make a thick, rich tomato jam and stash it in your fridge so you can continue to enjoy that burst of summer as the weather cools off. Fall & winter bring their own joys to my sandwich creations as late spinach, squash, and apples take their turn in the market. Really great charcuterie can help make this a meal by adding salami, prosciutto, or some stellar bacon.
Are you ready to cook up a great sandwich? Don’t forget to tag us if you post a picture on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter – we love to see everyone’s masterpieces!
Really Great Grilled Cheese
Makes 4 really great grilled cheese.
- 8 slices crusty bread
- 1 lb cheese, grated
- unsalted butter softened
- vegetables, meat, and spreads (optional)
- Layout 8 slices of bread and spread 1 side of each slice with a generous smear of butter, making sure to coat edge to edge. Flip 4 slices over so the butter side is face down. Divide the cheese among these 4 slices.
- Layer on other toppings of your choice and top with the other 4 slices, butter-side up.
- Preheat a dry saute pan or griddle (we really love cast iron for this!) over medium heat.
- Put as many of your sandwiches in the pan as you can fit, making sure they are all flat in the pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you may have to do this in batches.
- LEAVE THEM ALONE for 2-2 ½ minutes. This helps ensure that you have a nice golden toast on the outside of your grilled cheese.
- Flip to the other side for 2 minutes. If you have loaded up your sandwich with lots of toppings, you might need to use a second spatula to control the flip.
- Cut sandwiches in half and serve immediately with your favorite soup, if desired.
Combos I love (but please don’t stop here!):
Summer’s Splendor: True North Wheat Bread, Dry Fork Reserve Asiago, Toma, Tomato Jam
Fall for Gouda: Sesame Semolina Bread, Marieke’s Young Gouda, American Spoon Apple & Onion Jam