Saturday, August 15, 2009

How to Make an Open-Faced, Grilled-Cheese Sandwich.

My wife calls this simply cheese on toast. She has eaten it for breakfast, more days than not, all of her adult life. And since I was the weekend breakfast cook when the children were young, I learned how to make it right.
An open-face, grilled cheese sandwich is oven grilled and better than a pan-grilled chesse sandwich, in my view, because it is not pan-fried greasy, and better than bruschetta, in the winter anyway, because the hot bread and cheese is cooked and blended.

Here are the ingredients.

Slice of Bread
Preferably fresh bread that can be sliced thicker the normal store-bought sliced bread, but a quality pre-sliced is okay, too. I like the bread about 1/2" - 3/4" thick. I like a whole wheat bread because the density of the bread suits and carries the melted cheese well.

We use sharp cheddar. I am sure other kinds of cheese will work as well, but some of them don't oven grill well. I have tried other cheeses when we were out of cheddar, and they tended to brown too quickly on the exterior.

1. Lightly toast the bread in a normal toaster. Lightly, not toasted-through crispy.

2. Slice the cheese. On a 3 inch block of cheese, the slices are about 1/8" thick and you need about 4 - 6 slices.

3. Place the toast on a cookie sheet or piece of aluminum foil and layer the cheese on the toast. Important: Make sure that the cheese overlaps the edge of the toast by a 1/4" or so.

4. In a conventional oven turn the knob to "Broil" and place the cookie sheet with toast under the open flame or heating element about 8" - 10" from the heat. Close the door.

5. Here's the tricky part. And important. It takes a couple minutes to get the cheese melted, but the desired amount of "cooked" is past the stage of a grilled cheese sandwich. "Cooked" for us is an almost toasted-cheese level of cooking. The cheese will bubble on top. That's what you want to see. I let it get a good bubble working to where the oil is melting away from the cheese. BUT, if you let it go too far, all the oil and moisture will boil off and the cheese on toast will be tough, which my wife actually likes. I like it before it gets to that stage.

Make it better: In the summer, when tomatoes are fresh, I like to place a slice of tomato on top of the cheese after it has cooked a while and almost ready. When the tomato is warmed, in about a minute, it is ready.

Here's where you want to start watching it closely. For our taste we like about a minute more toasting in the grill to where it's soft in the center but more crispy on the edges.


rambler said...

Tangential comment alert!

I've been eating grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. On wheat berry type bread, it's a completely different and delightful experience.

Francis Shivone said...

Rambler -- first, thanks for the good use of the word, "tangential".

Second. I loved the old pepperidge farm wheat berry. I have never grilled a pbj but peanut butter is always good to me.

What kind of peanut butter do you use? I'm a natural peanut butter guy. I prefer the flavor to Jif or the others.


Rambler Goes Nuts said...

Honestly, I don't know what kind we use. A friend is staying with me, picked up the PB when we went shopping and made the sandwiches for me. I know it's one of the standard brands: Jif, Peter Pan, whatever. I agree the natural has a fresher taste, but I don't eat enough peanut butter to keep it fresh. Of course, you can make your own PB easily enough.

Another tangent: have you ever made almond butter? Just like PB, run the nuts with a little oil in a food processor. If you don't mind the salt, you can use the different flavors you can get at the Vending Nut Company on Montgomery.

I wonder how Macadamia butter would be? Besides expensive, that is.

Victor Shivone said...

The key is the bread which you cut thick and overlapping the cheese. I'm like Marian, I like it brown and sometimes a little crispy. Like you said, putting a tomato on it is nice addition. If you have some mushrooms also. Something about eating a plain Cheese on Bread, because it's quick and tiddy. When you get into all the accoutriments, it starts to become something else. I like the grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich idea. Thanks rambler. Not sure if accoutriment is spelled right and or used correctly, but it's close.I like the word Tangential though and thought it might need a friend.