The perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich is always a work in progress. We know that They should be cheesy, creamy, gooey, a little stringy, crunchy and buttery.
My choice of bread is non-seeded Italian bread, cut just slightly thicker than usual. I like this bread because it’s neutral in flavor, has a tight crumb (not too many big holes), and both crisps up and browns well.
There are a lot of choices here, from mayonnaise (yep, mayonnaise) to the aforementioned Crisco® shortening to margarine or even oil. I prefer NOT to add the fat to the pan but to spread it directly on both sides of the outer bread slices instead. I butter my perfect grilled cheese sandwich with softened Pelugra or Irish Kerrygold salted butter so that the butter is spreadable and right where I want it.
Here is where it all happens. You want a cheese that has both great flavor and great melting characteristics. So, we highly recommend Tillamook® Medium Cheddar. Slice it 1/8” thick and put on two layers edge to edge. Having said that, the perfect G.C.S. uses three cheeses. In order, top to bottom, they are: Tillamook Cheddar + Colby Jack +Aged Gouda. The star here, believe it or not, is the Colby Jack, which in any sandwich is 50% of the middle, with thin slices of the other two on both sides. All totaled, the amount of cheese in a sandwich is about the thickness of a pencil (about ¼”), no more. The reason we use Colby Jack in this sandwich is that while it lacks just a bit in chest flavor, it gives us the perfect stringy chewiness that you love. One last tip: if you allow your cheese to warm to room temperature before putting it in your sandwich, when you griddle your sandwich, it will melt perfectly.
It’s preferable to use a heavy-bottomed skillet, one that’s set on medium-low heat (about 300 F). This will allow the bread to brown and crisp up slowly and evenly while allowing the cheese to melt just right. Too hot a temperature and the bread is burnt before the cheese is melted. Too low and the cheese is melted before the bread is browned and crispy. 300 F is the grilled cheese’s Goldilocks Zone.
Griddling is basically pan-frying, and for a grilled cheese sandwich, this takes a bit longer than you might think (about 4 to 5 minutes on each side). Use a lower temperature, chill out, go slow, and do it right. Don’t press down as it’s cooking, but if you like a thinner sandwich, one where the cheese is oozing out of the sides and then crisps up on the pan, then you just go for it and enjoy your thing…
While our perfect grilled cheese is just that, every once in a while, it’s ok to add in some extras. Some favorites are shaved honey ham, crisp bacon or thinly sliced Campari tomatoes, with freshly torn basil leaves.
Finding YOUR perfect grilled cheese sandwich is a project well worth the journey, and as every journey begins with a first step, we recommend your first step be through the front door of Nino’s. Our cheese experts will point you toward favorites or help you find a new favorite of your own. We might also suggest you pair it with Nino’s own homemade Tomato Basil Soup.
Dunking is optional.