Humans have combined bread with cheese for centuries. When exactly it became grilled and gooey, we don’t know. Curiously, it is said that when the first grilled cheese sandwich appeared in the U.S. in the 1920s, it was prepared open-faced (like the French Tartines) and during the Great Depression they grew in popularity, due to the affordability of pre-sliced bread and processed cheese. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that the second piece of bread arrived to top off what has become the ultimate American comfort food.
While some people like to pair their sandwiches with soup, others like it with wine. “A good grilled cheese sandwich is loaded with great cheese, hearty bread and crisped up with butter, butter, butter! Wine has acidity. When your mouth is full of fat and richness, it’s great to take a swig of wine to cleanse the palate and refresh yourself for the next delicious bite of magnificent grilled cheese,” suggests Jason Sobocinski, host of The Big Cheese, in an interview with Food Republic. And there are plenty of ways to melt cheese on bread, whether in a conventional oven, a toaster oven or on a grill. But the classic way to prepare a grilled cheese sandwich, according to the Food Network experts is to: “Heat 1 tablespoon salted butter in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Press the sandwich slightly and place it in the skillet. Cook until golden on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes. Then flip, adding more butter to the pan if needed, and cook until the other side is golden and the cheese melts, 3 to 5 more minutes.” The toppings you choose are entirely up to you. Here are 15 grilled cheese recipes ideas to melt up right now.
1. Smoke Gouda and Roasted Red Pepper Whip out the Pullman Bread, place some very thin slices of Smoked Gouda cheese, Muenster Cheese, red peppers, arugula, on top of the slices, and then grill it up on a nonstick skillet on medium heat with plenty of butter. Serve with red wine.
2. Monte Cristo Its mere name denotes the extravagance of this grilled cheese, a cousin to the France’s croque-monsieur. This double-decker of Swiss cheese, ham, and chicken or turkey, dipped in milk and eggs, fried, and dusted with confectioners’ sugar, and then served with jelly is simply… decadent.
3. Vegan Alternative Have a vegan in the house or a lactose intolerant? This is one of the grilled cheese recipes for you. Grab some multigrain bread, soy cheese and soy bacon and grill up two big slices of portabella mushrooms. For an extra kick, add some garlic aioli made from garlic cloves and vegan mayonnaise…delish!
4. Roasted Poblano and Mushrooms If you are a fan of chiles rellenos you’ll love this easy to whip up sandwich in tribute to it. Fist roast the poblano, peel off the blackened outer skin, and slice into thin strips. Then cook the Portobello mushrooms caps in olive oil, and then layer it all on top of Cuban sandwich bread with slices of Monterrey Jack cheese. Don’t forget the adobe sauce!
5. Pesto and Tomato Grilled Cheese The simplicity and elegance of this pesto and tomato sandwich with cheddar or mozzarella cheese on sandwich bread is simply a crispy, cheesy and garlicky heaven here on earth. It will become a permanent menu fixture in your house.
6. Soppressata and Provolone Grilled Cheese Cured meats like Soppressata and Provolone add an intense salty kick to your standard grilled cheese. The key to this sandwich served up on Semolina bread is chopping the Soppressata and folding it into the cheese so that you attain the flavors in every bite. Serve with fig jam on the side.
7. Ham and Cheese with Pears Just adding pears to this old staple suddenly converts your grilled cheese sandwich into a thing of art. The key is finding pears that are firm to the touch, but not blemished, semi-frozen, or too soft. Cut the pear into thin slices, then, with the Gruyere cheese and ham slices, layer it all onto the sandwich bread of your choice. Whole wheat is healthier!
8. Brussels Sprout and Bacon Grilled Cheese This is one of the grilled cheese recipes that never fails. Add some healthy veggies to your sandwich (and then sin a little by adding some tasty bacon). In a separate pan cook the bacon, remove, and then cook the sprouts in the drippings for three minutes. Then build your sandwich on white bread with French Port Salut soft cheese and grill it up, baby.
9. Grilled Cheese with Onion Jam, Taleggio, and Escarole The gourmet twist to this sandwich calls for Taleggio, a semi-soft Italian cheese, layered with onion jam and escarole on sour dough bread with plenty of olive oil. Substitute spinach for the escarole or fig jam if onion is not your thing. Serve with white wine.
10. Bacon, Egg and Maple Grilled Cheese Too late for breakfast and too early for lunch? This perfect brunch sandwich is just what you need this weekend. This grilled cheese sandwich takes a bit of multitasking, but it’s worth it. First cook the bacon in maple syrup, then fry the eggs, set them aside and the layer it all on some Brioche bread with plenty of Cheddar. Naughty you.
Photos 1, 4, 6, 8 & 10 courtesy of Food Network.com