Grilled cheese one of America's favorite sandwiches
D&J Cafe cook Jay Miller quickly butters two slices of white bread, tosses them onto the griddle and slaps a slice of American cheese on each.
When the cheese melts after a couple of minutes, he presses the two cheesy sides together, slices it diagonally on the grill with his extra-long spatula and —presto! — he has a classic grilled-cheese sandwich.
“It’s probably the easiest thing to make,” said Miller, 34, who has been cooking professionally for 19 years.
Three of those years have been at D&J Cafe, a popular neighborhood haunt in Springfield, Ill., known for breakfasts and short-order lunches.
The grilled cheese sandwich there sells for $2.10. For a little more, diners can get it with chips or fries.
Grilled cheese is one of America’s favorite sandwiches. About 22 percent of U.S. households serve them at least once every two weeks, according to research firm NPD Group, and 64 percent of those are eaten during lunch.
“If you’re making it at home, don’t have the skillet too high or it will burn. Use a medium heat,” advised Miller, who prepares the sandwich at home for his daughters Nikki, 8, and Haley, 5. At D&J, the griddle is heated to between 350 and 375 degrees.
- Butter the bread, not the pan, to get an even crispness on the bread.
- Press the sandwich with a spatula after it has been flipped to spread the cheese and crisp the bread.
- Use a nonstick pan instead of cast-iron. The sandwich is less likely to stick to the pan.
Miller says he knows a grilled cheese sandwich is done when the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown.
American is the most commonly used cheese on the sandwich because of its superior melting ability, according to food trend report Mintel’s Menu Insights. Cheddar and Swiss come in second and third, respectively.
These recipes call for a variety of cheeses.
Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich
4 slices (about 3/4 ounce each) American cheese
4 slices white sandwich bread
Place 2 slices of cheese each on 2 bread slices; top with remaining bread slices. Brush outsides of sandwiches with butter.
Place large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add sandwiches; cook 4 to 5 minutes per side or until cheese melts and sandwiches are golden brown.
Makes 2 sandwiches.
- Adapted from Easy Home Cooking magazine
Grilled Ham, Brie & Blue Cheese Sandwich
2 slices (1/2 inch thick) rustic white country bread or hearty raisin-pecan bread
1 tablespoon apricot or peach preserves
1 slice (1 1/2 ounces) brie cheese
2 slices thin deli ham
2 tablespoons crumbed blue cheese
1 teaspoon butter, melted
Spread 1 slice of bread with preserves. Top with brie, ham, blue cheese and second slice of bread. Heat nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush top and bottom of sandwich lightly with butter. Place sandwich in skillet and cook about 4 minutes per side until lightly browned and cheese begins to melt.
Makes 1 sandwich.
- Adapted from Jones Dairy Farm and Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Grilled Fontina Sandwich With Cherry Chutney
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 cup water
8 slices hearty bread
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
16 slices fontina cheese
1 pound smoked turkey, shaved
1 Granny Smith apple, sliced thin
To prepare chutney, heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions until beginning to brown. Deglaze pan with vinegar. Add cherries, salt, tarragon, honey and water and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool.
To prepare sandwiches, butter one side of each slice of bread. Place four slices of bread, buttered side down, in large, nonstick pan or griddle on medium heat. Top each with fontina cheese, turkey, sliced apple and 1 tablespoon chutney. Top with remaining four slices of bread, buttered side out. Grill each side until golden brown and cheese is melted.
Makes 4 sandwiches.
- Adapted from Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Tuscan-Style Grilled Cheese Sandwich
18 spears (1 pound) grilled asparagus
1/2 cup prepared olive oil vinaigrette
12 slices crusty sourdough bread
12 slices (6 ounces) fontina cheese
12 slices (8 ounces) fresh mozzarella cheese (from 4-ounce ovals)
1 cup (1 ounce) fresh basil leaves
1 cup (6 ounces) roasted red pepper pieces
12 slices (6 ounces) provolone cheese
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
Toss grilled asparagus with vinaigrette and let stand covered and refrigerated, at least 2 hours before using. Reserve.
Lay 6 slices of bread on clean, flat surface. Top each slice with (in order) 2 slices fontina, 3 marinated drained asparagus spears, 2 slices mozzarella, 6 fresh basil leaves, 2 1/2 tablespoons red pepper and 2 slices provolone. Top with second slice of bread and brush both sides of sandwich with olive oil.
Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat and grill sandwiches on both sides until golden brown. Transfer to baking sheet and keep warm in 350 oven 8 to 10 minutes or until heated through.
Makes 6 sandwiches.
- Adapted from Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Kathryn Rem can be reached at email@example.com.