How to Make the Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich plus Lots of Good Ideas

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Cheddar & Green Chilli “Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Secret Red

Two nations divided by a common language! 

There is a strong American influence in the Caribbean, even in the British Virgin Islands, and when I was first there I was sometimes discombombulated by the American way with English words.  A lot of this confusion was quite fun e.g. much giggling about the word fanny, etc. but in the kitchen it could be a problem.


Grilled Cheese Sandwich is a case in point ~ did you rather suspect it would be?  

In England when we say "grill" as a verb we mainly mean cooking something, often toast, under our eye level grill (noun) on our cooker.   

To Americans this verb usually means to cook over the source of heat as in a BBQ.  So far as they are concerned we broil our toast.  And therefore a grilled cheese sandwich is …?  Yes, it’s fried which was quite a surprise for me the first time one was ordered.  (I suppose this may come from the word griddled.)

A traditional American Grilled Cheese Sandwich comprises two slices of sliced white bread filled with slices of processed "cheese" which is yuk but melts well.  

The outside of the sandwich is buttered and it is cooked in a hot pan till the outside is crispy and the inside is melty.  It is a good idea which lends itself to huge improvement particularly in the cheese department but also by using good bread and adding complimentary ingredients.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich ~ Method

~  Make a cheese sandwich – grated cheese melts quicker and more evenly than sliced.
~  Spread the outside of the sandwich with butter.
~  Heat a dry frying pan.
~  Lay the sandwich in the pan and turn down the heat. Cook slowly so that the bread doesn't toast before the cheese has melted.
~  When the first side is crisp and golden and the inside melting t
urn the sandwich and cook the second side.  

For my standard Grilled Cheese Sarnie I spread the insides of the sandwith with mayonnaise and also with a scraping of Patak's excellent Chilli Pickle.  I use grated Davidstow Cornish Crackler Cheddar and I don’t usually butter the outside of the sandwich but rather I dry fry it in a futile attempt to lose weight.

cheese and green chilli toasted sandwich

For my non-standard grilled cheese sandwiches I use all manner of things and, of course, they are perfect vehicles for leftovers.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich Ideas

Try varying the basic ingredients ...

~  Different breads but nothing to holey or the filling might drip through!
~  Use different fats – maybe olive oil or bacon fat (uh-oh but also yum!).
~  Spread the insides with mayonnaise instead of butter, maybe even a deliciously flavoured mayonnaise!
~  Experiment with different flavoured butters such as garlic butter, black pepper butter etc.  See here for loads of different butter ideas.
~  For a richer, crisper and fattier sandwich melt the butter or other fat in the pan instead of spreading abstemiously on the bread!
~  Different cheese – there are loads to choose from!!. Or try a mix of cheeses, for instance lovely mature cheddar and mozzarella.

Add all sorts of things! …

~  Meat! Bacon, chorizo, ham, prosciutto, salami etc. are all good.
~  Fruit, for instance mix grated apples with the grated cheese or add a few grapes or blueberries.
~  Roasted peppers.
~  Garlic – try roasted garlic or black garlic.
~  Finley chopped raw, preferably red, onion or spring onions
Caramelised onions.
~  Chopped dates!
~  Nuts and seeds
~  Herbs and spices
~  A bit of heat – hot sauce, jalapenos, chipotle paste, green chilli pickle or similar.
~  Condiments such as chutney, pesto, pickle, sauces, mustard etc.
~  Olives or tapenade
~  Some jams such as chilli jam, bacon jam or fig jam or Membrillo (Quince Paste)
~  Roasted or sun-dried tomatoes.
~  Leftovers e.g. haggis, cooked minced beef, roasted vegetables, a spoonful of gravy of leftover stew, and so on.

Good combinations …

~  Mozzarella, tomato and pesto or fresh basil
~  Swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms
~  Goat cheese and prosciutto
~  Blue cheese and ripe pear – maybe add some coarsely chopped walnuts too!
~  Blue cheese and black garlic
~  Add a drizzle of honey to blue cheese.
~  Brie, crispy bacon and a little cranberry sauce
~  Cheddar and ham
~  Roasted veggies and Feta
~  Pound cake, mascarpone and blueberries!

Any more good ideas?
Let me know.

Another Funny Thing about Americans!

Incidentally American cookers have their grills/broilers underneath the oven at ground level.  I asked an American friend why this is and he said because they like to watch their wives bend over in the morning!

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