Guys, did you know that April was Grilled Cheese Month? Truth be told, I had no idea until late last week, when a large, heavy box addressed to Marge Hennessy arrived in the mail.
“Marge?” I thought aloud. This must be from someone in my blog family. Turns out, it was. My friends at Kerrygold USA had shipped a few blocks of their milder cheeses along with their rich Irish butter in celebration of this yet-unbeknownst-to-me holiday. So I figured this was as good a time as any for a little grilled cheese testing.
I’m not a real prescriptivist when it comes to grilled cheese. All I really require is a bit of crunch (properly grilled bread), a lot of ooze (sufficiently melty cheese) and a hint of tang (either from natural cheese funk, a smear of mustard or even a little shaved raw onion).
The most crucial part of making grilled cheese is to get the heat just right so the cheese melts and the bread toasts at about the same speed. I’ve found that a cast iron pan over medium-low heat, plenty of soft butter on both sides, and several flips of the sandwich seem to do the trick.
My favorite melting cheeses are: Fontina, Gruyere, young/sharp cheddar, mozzarella and Kraft singles (ain’t no shame in it)! My favorite accent cheeses are (don’t overdo it!): goat, blue, grated Parmesan and aged cheddar.
From there, I love all kinds of additions, from avocado to bacon, fig jam and apples slices to roasted tomato and blistered peppers. But like pizza toppings, I’ve found that a little goes a long way when it comes to grilled cheese add-ons.
- Fontina + Kerrygold Skellig sweet cheddar
- Fontina + Kerrygold Skellig sweet cheddar w/ avocado & grainy mustard
- Kerrygold Blarney Castle (gouda) + Kerrygold aged cheddar
- Kerrygold Blarney Castle + Kerrygold aged cheddar w/ roasted cherry tomato + shallot
All the sandwiches were made with the same bread, Tuscan pane from Labriola. I love this bread for grilled cheese because it has a fairly neutral flavor; soft, slightly cobwebby interior; and not-too-crunchy crust. If you can’t find it, good old white bread or Pullman loaves work really well for grilled cheese, too.
The runaway favorite for the tastiest classic grilled cheese was…(WAIT FOR IT) fontina + sweet cheddar.
The fancy (AKA Margeified) favorite was gouda + aged cheddar with roasted cherry tomato and shallot.
I guess that because Grilled Cheese Month is over, I’ve technically failed you. But I prefer to think of this post as a win due to all the grilled cheese eating that it allowed to happen. Plus, now you have a whole year to test out grilled cheeses in preparation for April 2015.