Get ready to enjoy a sandwich that is classic comfort food in a whole new way
Get out the fry pan and grab your favorite cheese. April 12 has been anointed as “Grilled Cheese Day,” and I happen to think this classic comfort food deserves the designation.
Two food inventions probably elevated this sandwich to classic status: the bread slicer in the 1920s and Kraft Food’s individually wrapped slices of processed cheese that hit store shelves in 1965. The term “grilled cheese” showed up in print for the first time in the ’60s, replacing “toasted cheese” or a “melted cheese” sandwich.
My childhood grilled cheese sandwich was simply some sliced Velveeta on Wonder Bread. I was an adult before I was grilling something other than white bread and the cheese of choice was not individually wrapped.
These days, I don’t make the same sandwich twice, changing up the bread along with what I put inside the pieces of bread. I might add whole grain mustard and I always experiment with the cheese. Right now, my fave is Golden Onion Jack by Boar’s Head. I might throw in some slices of bread and butter pickles. And instead of buttering the outside of the bread, now I spread mayo.
Think of grilled cheese month as a time to pay homage to this classic comfort food. At a cooking class at the Yellowstone Art Museum’s Raven Cafe d’Art, I sampled Angela Lyle’s Southern Pimento Cheese Sandwich — it was very tasty. And if you like Muenster cheese, then I strongly suggest the Melty Muenster offered up by Ashley Lauckner at Evergreen Cafe. (I tried to get her to part with the recipe for their Tomato Basil Soup, a perfect companion to the melty Muenster, but she wouldn’t budge. You will just have to stop by and take some home.)
Here's to your grilled cheese month. I raise my melty cheese and bread in your honor.
PIZZA GRILLED CHEESE
- 2 slices of white country loaf bread
- Pizza sauce
- Mozzarella cheese slices
- Pepperoni slices or thin slices of ham
- ¼ c. grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
- Garlic butter
Butter one side of each slice of bread with garlic butter. Layer Mozzarella cheese slices one slice of bread (with buttered side down). Spread with a thin layer of pizza sauce. Top with slices of pepperoni or thin slice of ham. Sprinkle the grated or shredded Parmesan cheese. Top with remaining slice of bread, butter side up.
Preheat a griddle or nonstick skillet to medium-low. Place the sandwich on the griddle and cook until the bottom is golden brown and crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the sandwich and cook until the bottom is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 3 to 4 minutes.
MELTY MUENSTER GRILLED CHEESE
Recipe from Ashley Lauckner, Evergreen Cafe
- Sliced baguette or sourdough bread
- Olive oil
- Muenster cheese, sliced thin, around 2mm (around 1/8 inch)
Drizzle the olive oil on 1 side of each bread slice. Layer slices of the Muenster cheese (how many slices is personal choice). Top with the other slice of bread.
Preheat a griddle or nonstick skillet to medium-low. Place the sandwich on the griddle and cook until bottom is golden brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the sandwich and cook until the bottom is golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 3 to 4 minutes.
NOTE: Ashley suggests ways to add some crunch of extra flavor or heat to the sandwich. Try adding caramelized onion, crispy bacon, pepper jelly, thin apple slices or carrot ribbons.
SOUTHERN PIMENTO GRILLED CHEESE
Recipe from Angela Lyle, Raven Café d’Art
- Pimento Cheese
- 1 lb. extra sharp cheddar cheese or a mixture of mild cheddar and sharp cheddar cheeses
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1-4 oz. jar diced pimentos, drained
- 2 T. good quality mayonnaise
- 2 T. Miracle Whip (or can use all mayo)
- ½ t. Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ t. salt
- ½ t. black pepper
- 2 slices of country white bread
- Sliced ripe tomato
To make the pimento cheese, shred cheeses in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients except pimento. Blend until combined and a thick, spreadable consistency. Fold in pimentos. For chunkier recipe, combine ingredients with shredded cheeses in a bowl and mix by hand.
Butter one side of each bread slice. Spread one side with the pimento cheese (as thickly as desired) and top with sliced tomato. Top with the other slide of bread.
Preheat a large nonstick skillet or griddle to medium-low. Place the sandwich butter side down and cook until bottom is golden brown and crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the sandwich and cook until the bottom is golden brown and the cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to cutting board, cut in half diagonally and serve immediately.
MAKE IT MELTY
Try these options to change up your grilled cheese sandwich
- American (white or yellow)
- Queso Oaxaca
- Monterey Jack