Classic Grilled Cheese
For grilling the bread, I prefer to use a home-style panini machine, a two-sided grill that resembles a waffle iron. The heavy metal grills apply pressure and heat to both sides of the bread or sandwich at once. There's no flipping necessary, and you don't need to exert any extra pressure on the sandwiches as they grill. Turn the panini machine to high and allow it to heat up for 5-10 minutes. Transfer the sandwiches to the grill, placing them side by side without overcrowding them. (Most home-style panini grills have room for two sandwiches or two slices of bread.) Close the top grill and cook them for a few minutes, until the bread is lightly browned. This practical and easy-to-use machine is the fastest, most efficient method for making grilled sandwiches.
If you don't own a panini grill, other techniques work fine. You can achieve the same effect with the coffee-shop method, using a heavy-bottomed pan, or better yet, a well-seasoned cast iron skillet with some clarified butter. Place a tablespoon or so of the clarified butter in the skillet and cook the assembled sandwich over medium heat, covered with a lid. WHen the bottom side turns golden brown, flip the sandwich over and move it around so it absorbs some if the butter around the edge of the skillet, adding more butter if necessary.
When grilling a closed-face sandwich on a charcoal or gas grill, place a metal bowl over it to help the cheese-melting process (At home, this technique probably isn't worth the trouble, but if you're picnicking or camping, a charcoal grill comes in handy for a quick and tasty outdoor meal.) And simplest of all, for any of the open-faced sandwiches, you can certainly just toast the bread in a good old-fashioned toaster.
Total Timeunder 15 minutes
Recipe Coursemain course, snack
Dietary Considerationmain course, snack
Equipmentgrill pan, panini press
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Mealkid snack, lunch, snack
Taste and Texturecheesy, chewy, crisp
Type of Dishgrilled sandwich
- 8 slices white or whole-wheat sourdough bread, buttered
- 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, sliced into 24–32 1/16-inch-thick slices
TO ASSEMBLE THE SANDWICHES: Set half of the bread slices buttered side down, and cover them with the cheese slices, folding them over if they extend past the edges of the bread. Place the top slice of bread over the cheese, buttered side up.
Grill the sandwiches (see Note) and cut each in half on the diagonal.
SUMMERTIME GRILLED CHEESE VARIATION
When tomatoes are in season, my friend Jason Asch insists that I make his grilled cheese sandwich with the tomato slices layered inside before it’s grilled. Though I make this exception for him and for him only, I prefer the firm texture of the tomato when it’s slipped in after the sandwich is already grilled.
2–4 tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick, core end discarded
1–2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Kosher salt, to taste
Drizzle olive oil over the tomato slices and sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit for about five minutes.
Assemble and grill the sandwiches according to the directions above. Cut each sandwich in half on the diagonal and slide in the tomatoes.
2002 Nancy Silverton