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October 4, 2014

That Age Old Question: What Constitutes a Grilled Cheese? ~ Sarah Garza

grilled cheese sandwich

Mmmm, grilled cheese, a childhood staple my adult self still craves.

Now, perhaps I’m a bit of a traditionalist, but I think there are only three things that make up a true grilled cheese: butter, bread and cheese.

Some of you may disagree, but really now, when you start adding layer after layer of meat and gosh knows what other toppings, you’ve got another kind of sandwich going on, plain and simple. I don’t mean to be unkind. It may be a great sandwich, but it’s not a grilled cheese.

The only thing I may mix it up on is what kind of cheese I use. And I know there are some of you who will say that unless a grilled cheese is made only with American cheese, it isn’t what it’s trying to be.

Let’s talk about American cheese.

To begin with, it’s neither American, nor is simply cheese. The processed cheese we know today as “American” was created by Canadian-born James L. Kraft and consists of one or more cheeses, milk, whey, milk fat, milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate, saturated oil(s), emulsifiers and salt. Admittedly it does melt nicely, but American cheese is far from natural.

So please, when making grilled cheese, I must beg of you, try unprocessed/raw/natural cheeses. You might just find your sandwich tastes much better. If you’re searching for a good cheese, try cheddar, gruyere, brie, blue cheese, gouda, pepper jack, havarti or my personal favorite, manchego (try it with a pesto spread!)

After the cheese, we have the bread to consider.

I always use sourdough, but other breads work well also. Branch out and try something different for your bread, but do keep in mind the bread-cheese pairing.

As for how to make a grilled cheese, it is fairly simple.

Butter the pan.
Place once slice of bread on the pan.
Followed by the cheese.
Once the cheese starts to melt slightly, cover it with the other slice of bread.
Re-butter the pan and flip the grilled cheese to let the other side grill.

Viola! You’ve got a gooey delicious grilled cheese sandwich.

No need to search for that perfect recipe, my friends. Keep it simple. As the first bite takes you back to your childhood days, you’ll remember that sometimes, things don’t need to change to stay absolutely amazing.

Excuse me now while I make myself a grilled cheese.

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_cheese
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_L._Kraft

 

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Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Flickr / Vanessa Druckman

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Sarah Garza