Let’s Make the Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Do you love grilled cheese sandwiches? Most people will give two thumbs up to this question and many will offer their favorite recipe for grilled cheese. Let’s face it, no one wants to eat a boring grilled cheese sandwich (sorry mom!) when it is so easy to create amazing sandwiches that will make you want more and want them now.
Let’s Talk Cheese
Most of us grew up eating grilled cheese sandwiches that were made with white bread and American cheese. Most of the noticeable flavor actually came from all of the butter that was used and the end result tended to be a bit pale and gooey. I don’t think my mom had cheddar cheese in our house until I was in college and I know she never used Gruyere, I’m not sure our small town grocer even carried it. While I love using many different types of cheese, I am going to use three of my favorites for this recipe; Gruyere, white cheddar and Muenster.
Gruyere is a hard yellow cheese that originates in Switzerland. The flavor is usually sweet and a tad salty, it’s very pleasant tasting and mixes well with other cheeses. It needs about 5 months to fully age and will have small cracks in it when aged properly. It’s considered a very good melting cheese and is used often in quiches and omelets.
White cheddar is a harder, sharper tasting cheese. Surprisingly it is the most used cheese in Great Britain. The sharpness comes from the peptides and the cheese is usually wrapped to keep out contaminants. White cheddar is also considered a good melting cheese.
The third cheese in this recipe is Muenster. This is an American cheese (despite the name) that probably has a German background. Muenster is a semi-soft cheese that is very smooth in texture and has an orange rind. It’s taste is usually mild and smooth but it becomes more tangy as it ages. It has become quite popular as a cheese to use with pizza, appetizers and other foods that benefit from a cheese that melts well.
Caramelizing The Onions
The one step that adds a bit of time to this recipe (but is quite worth the effort) is when you caramelize the onions. I use yellow onions, they are sweeter and brown up very nicely. Caramelizing onions brings out the sweetness found in yellow onions. There is a complicated chemistry formula that describes how this works, but the end result is a browned, sweetened onion that adds an amazing flavor to your soon-to-be perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Even people that don’t like onions will often rave about how good the caramelized onions tasted.
Caramelizing onions is really quite easy. Be sure to use butter and olive oil (olive oil has a lower smoke temperature) and don’t add the sugar until the end of the cooking process.
Making The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich
8 pieces of good artisanal bread. Be fussy, don’t pick thin white bread but also don’t pick really heavy crusty bread.
Mayo for spreading on the bread.
12 ounces Gruyere cheese. I prefer shredded if possible, it melts faster.
6 ounces white Cheddar cheese, shredded if possible.
4 ounces very thinly sliced Muenster cheese.
2 medium sized yellow onions. Dice and chop.
1 teaspoon of thyme, minced.
2 teaspoons rosemary, minced.
1 tablespoon brown sugar.
Salt and pepper.
3 tablespoons butter.
1 tablespoon olive oil.
In a skillet melt half the butter (1 and 1/2 tablespoons) and add the olive oil. Set the temperature to a medium-low heat.
Add the chopped onions, salt and pepper (to taste), the thyme and 1 teaspoon of rosemary. Stir often until the onions soften and start to turn brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the brown sugar and mix well. Cook for about 1 minute, then remove the onions from the pan. DON’T clean the pan!
Add the remaining butter and the remaining rosemary to the hot pan and raise the temperature to medium.
Take two slices of your good artisanal bread and spread some mayo on one side of each slice.
Add both pieces to the skillet, mayo side down, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
While the bread is cooking, add some of the cheeses to both pieces. Then add a few tablespoons of the caramelized onion to one slice of the bread.
When the bread is nicely golden, sandwich the two pieces together and continue cooking for a minute or two, allowing the cheeses to fully melt.
Repeat this process for the rest of the sandwiches. Make sure you have a good spatula (turner) when you are sandwiching the bread pieces together.