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The Perfect Grilled Cheese

I know this is fairly basic and may be a dumb question but though I am fairly deft at cooking, I cannot get a grilled cheese to be perfect, in the way I remember my mom's ones being. I am looking for the methods of cooking a Perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Though I know that there are many new flavor combos that people are trying, I am just wondering about the most basic of grilled cheeses: cheese slapped between two slices...

Just wondering if you 'Hounds could use your expertise to give me any tried and true methods for making it perfect.

-What type of bread and cheese?
-What type of pan do you cook it in?
-Butter, oil, both, something else?
-How high should the heat be set?
-How many times do you flip? How long should you wait before you flip?

Any ideas or methods? Thanks y'all!

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  1. Once a month I throw a grilled cheese and poker night at my place. You know 20 to 40 of my nearest and dearest. Right now I have a Garland range with a 2 foot flattop griddle. We cook the GC's on that. We always have many different cheese and breads on hand. We always use butter.

    1. For us, it's 2 slices of bread...kind of crappy, Nature's Own Honey Wheat (hey, it's what my son loves and I'm not usually the one to eat these)...but have also done it on rye bread.
      Softened butter or Smart Balance is spread on one side of each piece of bread, not glopping it on but making sure it's a thin coating all the way to the crust.
      Skillet is either my cast iron OR my new green pan (which so many on the cookware board totally dissed but to me, it's awesome!!!) I use a dry pan, not sprayed or greased in any way because you have the butter on the bread and that's all you need.
      Cut the bread slices in half...put one slice butter side down in skillet.
      Cheese: regular deli-sliced Boar's Head White American or Muenster cheese, one entire slice to each half.
      Top with other piece of bread, buttered side up.
      Turn on heat to medium and cover. Check after a few minutes to see if the bottom is browned yet; if so, flip it over, cover and then check to see if other side is now brown and crispy.
      That's it for the way we make our grilled cheese. I've never used oil, nor have I ever greased the pan. Quite Spartan, true but they come out crispy and not greasy. (when our sons were 5-ish, one of their friends moms said "Valerie, I've seen your beautiful fluffy crispy grilled cheese and my daughter keeps asking me to make it like yours!!" I think she just made hers like put cheese on bread, run under broiler...end of discussion...she hated cooking.)

      3 Replies
      1. re: Val

        Great, thank you for the tips! I must remember to cover it. I think a lot of my problem is impatience and I keep checking to flip it too early, so it sticks from all the moving around. Also I think you're right about muenster cheese. That's what my mom used to use. Unfortunately they don't sell it anywhere near me! :(

        Thanks again for the tips.

        1. re: wahwahweewee

          I agree mostly with val I grew up with my mom melting the butter in the pan. When I was about 20 a friend introduced me to the butter the bread method and that is far superior.

          The only thing I might disagree about is coverig the pan. The way I know when to flip is when the butter on the top slice has melted. Then it is time to flip. You don't need to check underneath.

          Once you flip wait till the cheese inside looks melted before checking.

          For a classic, IMO, it has to be white bread with American cheese.

          That's not to say I don't do a lot of variations, the most likely to be adding sliced tomato. But classic is classic.

        2. re: Val

          Val, I cook GC sandwiches on my GREEN PAN too!!!

          My method is simple, no oiling of the pan or buttering of bread. Place two slices of Extra Sharp cheese on some type of whole wheat bread. Place on medium heated green pan. Take parchment paper and cover top of GC sandwich and then place heavier pan on top of paper. Heat for a few minutes, flip sandwich, reapply parchment and place heavier pan on top.

          PUURRR-FECT toasted, grill cheese cooked on a "eco" pan :)

        3. Just what I like--
          Using rye bread with caraway seeds
          The seeds work well with the cheese
          Slip a tomato slice in there and sprinkle salt and pepper on it before grilling...I use the toaster oven

          2 Replies
          1. re: zzDan

            yep, I didn't mention that to jazz ours up, we love adding a schmear of salsa in the sandwich...oy! But I was just trying to answer OP's question without embellishment. And adding crisp bacon, well, of course...that's a whole other thread of what to ADD to the grilled cheese to livey it up.We've had long threads on that topic, too.

            1. re: Val

              Heh.... I limited myself too. Definitely would add a little ham or bacon with a preference for Swiss cheese. Not ye old Kraft singles

          2. Bread-seeded Rye
            Cheese-Sweet Munchee
            Heavy Cast Iron Frying Pan
            Butter
            Medium
            Flip Once
            ====
            I butter the botom slice of bread and put in pan, then add cheese and cover with top slice of bread. I do not butter this. I cook about five minutes on medium (gas range). I then lift the sandwich out on a spatula and put a pat of butter into the pan, then flip and return the sandwich to the pan. Cook approximately another 2-3 minutes. Remove, place on paper toweling to remove a little excess grease,transfer to plate, cut in half and serve.

            I do not like any tomato or meat added into the sandwich.

            If planning on dipping in tomato soup, I prefer to use a dark pumpernickel and swiss.

            I also like Harvarti, but on non-sseded rye

            1. I've had good success with a cast iron pan. There was another earlier Chow post about adding jams to grilled cheese sandwiches. There were lots of great combos in that post! Check it out!