How to make the perfect grilled cheese

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The grilled cheese sandwich is making a comeback.

"Chef's are using different types of vessels to create the sandwich, including rustic sour dough, Ciabatta or even a pretzel-style bun," said Michael Mongeon, chef/owner of KJ Nosh Catering Company, which has restaurants at Wahconah and Greenock country clubs in Dalton and Lee, respectively. "They're also dabbling in both savory and sweet sandwiches alike."

Maybe it's time we give the lowly grilled cheese its due — and the right amount of butter — after all, Thursday is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day.

The classic can be so easily upscaled by adding ingredients like avocado, bacon or ham; swapping out the variety of bread or the variety of cheese; or using a different cooking method — frying it in a pan, pressing it in a panini maker or waffle iron, or with a clothes iron like Johnny Depp did in the 1993 film, "Benny & Joon."

"I think the grilled cheese is a childhood staple for most that just about everyone can relate to in some way," Mongeon said.

In honor of the holiday, we asked Mongeon to share a few tips for making the perfect grilled cheese.

The Basics

Mongeon suggests using a cast iron skillet to make the sandwich. Buttering the bread evenly is the best approach for even cooking and even color while developing a nice crust on the bread. Julia Moskin of The New York Times suggests spreading one side of each bread slice with butter, then spreading the other side with mayonnaise (yes, mayonnaise) and then placing the bread, mayonnaise-side-down, in the pan and topping each slice with cheese. Once the cheese is slightly melted, she then recommends putting the slices together, gently flipping the sandwich for an even grill.

Have patience

A good dose of patience is key, according to Mongeon. Cooking the sandwich at a high temperature will essentially burn the outside prior to the inside being melted. Use low to medium heat to develop a nice carmalization of the bread and to allow the sandwich to fully melt and heat through.

The good stuff

While you can always stick with the classic American cheese, Mongeon said some chefs are opting out of tradition. "Manchego, fontina, havarti and Brie are some of my favorite melting cheeses," he said.

Feeling fancy?

Toppings are becoming more relevant also, including different types of meats and fruit components. "Add-ins include serrano, chorizo, speck, prosciutto, ham, and, of course, bacon. Pears, figs, apple, even candied nuts are also great pairings for a great grilled cheese sandwich. Pestos, aiolis, jams and mustards are also accompanying these sandwiches."


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