It's the childhood favorite you never outgrow, the most comforting comfort food of all time -- the grilled cheese sandwich. American, Cheddar, Gouda ... whatever your pleasure, follow these ten tips from Laura Werlin, author of Great Grilled Cheese, and have yourself a slice of melted heaven.
1. Good to grate
Don't slice your cheese when you can grate it (the bigger the grater, the better). This ensures evenly melted, gooey cheese in every bite.
2. Get cheesy
Don't be shy -- plan on about two ounces of cheese per sandwich. Use your palm to press the grated cheese onto the bread so it doesn't fall out.
3. Embrace the ooze
Don't fret if the cheese oozes out of the sandwich. The toasty bits at the bottom of the pan are the best part!
4. No need to Wonder
Don't just assume that white is the only way. If you love focaccia or whole-wheat, go for it.
5. Size does matter
Don't slice your bread more than 1/4" thick or it'll overwhelm the cheese.
6. Smush your bread
Flatten sandwiches with a spatula or a heavy pan to ensure oozing cheese and crisp rather than doughy bread.
7. Butter le pain, not le pan
Spread room-temperature butter on the bread (on the side you're grilling, not the inside of the sandwich) before you grill. That way, you'll get evenly buttered, evenly browned bread with a little crunch.
8. Salted butter is best
Just trust me.
9. Stick with nonstick
Although a cast-iron skillet is the traditional fave, a nonstick skillet is your best bet for easy flipping and no sticking.
10. Put a lid on it
Cover the skillet while cooking the first side of the sandwich for maximum cheese melting.
And now for the ultimate grilled cheese recipe, from Laura Werlin's Great Grilled Cheese:
The Best Grilled Cheese
8 slices sourdough bread (1/4 inch thick)
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
6 ounces best-quality Cheddar cheese (orange or white), coarsely grated
To assemble: Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices on your work surface, buttered side down. Distribute the cheese evenly over the 4 slices. Place the remaining 4 bread slices on top, buttered side up.
Stovetop method: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches in the skillet (in batches if necessary), cover, and cook for 2 minutes, or until the undersides are golden brown and the cheese has begun to melt. Uncover, and turn the sandwiches with a spatula, pressing firmly to flatten them slightly. Cook for 1 minute, or until the undersides are golden brown. Turn the sandwiches again, press with the spatula, and cook for 30 seconds, or until the cheese has melted completely. Serve immediately.
Sandwich maker method: Preheat the sandwich maker. Follow directions for sandwich assembly, and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Gas grill method: Brush the grill rack with oil and preheat the grill to medium-high. Follow directions for sandwich assembly. Put the sandwiches on the grill and follow directions for the stovetop method.
Makes 4 sandwiches.