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Grilled Cheese Sandwich?

mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 08:59 AM

So I've always used kraft singles american cheese - until I recently started learning about processed foods. I'd like to use a real cheese that I can buy in a block, but want something that has a very close taste and melted texture as american cheese. Any suggestions?

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  1. f
    fourunder RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 09:05 AM


    1 Reply
    1. re: fourunder
      fourunder RE: fourunder Feb 13, 2011 05:46 AM

      Yes to Muenster and Brie as others have noted.....Round Deli sliced Provolone is very mild and melts smooth and easily

    2. a
      arp29 RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 09:08 AM

      Cheddar also makes an excellent grilled cheese. I had one last night with thinly sliced tart apples and some honey mustard. Mozzarella, provolone, swiss, etc. can all be delicious in grilled cheese. Have fun experimenting! I think you'll find that you like grilled cheese even better w/o the Kraft singles:-)

      1. Gio RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 09:21 AM

        The cheeses we regularly use for a grilled cheese sandwich are Fontina, Gruyere and Seriously Sharp Cheddar from VT. None really mirror the flavor of "American" cheese but honestly, to my palate, Am. cheese doesn't have much flavor. Fontina, depending on how long it's been aged has a mild rich to nutty flavor. Gruyere is somewhat similar to Fontina but a little more salty...a little like Swiss.. Cheddar makes a really good grilled cheese but needs to be sliced thinly and placed next to the bread. It doesn't seem to have the same melting quality of the others but the taste is distinctive. Then there's Havarti...
        BTW: we use a George Forman for GCS.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Gio
          c oliver RE: Gio Feb 12, 2011 11:54 AM

          As I'm typing I'm finishing a GCS with sharp Cheddar on rosemary bread done on the panini grill. I don't add any butter/oil/etc. With a little mug of tomato soup with basil and a dollop of creme fraiche. Happy mouth.

          1. re: c oliver
            Gio RE: c oliver Feb 13, 2011 05:35 AM

            We don't use butter either, but I will confess to using a slather of mayo on the "inside" of one piece of bread and spicy dark mustard on the other, with cheese and a slice of tomato in between. An oozey, gooey, messy delight.

            1. re: Gio
              greygarious RE: Gio Feb 13, 2011 06:36 AM

              Ever use mayo on the outside, instead of butter or an oiled pan/grill? It works well, and you can season it if desired. I mix curry powder into the mayo first. If using just butter or oil, I like honey mustard on the inside, plus sliced tomato in season. Another addition is canned fried onions. Don't like the French/Durkee versions but Trader Joe's has a good one stocked holiday season only. And Asian markets sell plastic jars of excellent fried onion bits, sometimes sold as fried shallots. Either way they seem to have the same picture of red onions on the label. Sprinkle a tbsp on the cheese - it will retain a little crunch once the cheese melts.

              1. re: greygarious
                Gio RE: greygarious Feb 13, 2011 08:22 AM

                uuuuoooooo..... mayo on the Outside. With curry. Gotta try that.
                (I Love Mayonnaise.) Thanks Greygarious!

                1. re: Gio
                  paulj RE: Gio Feb 13, 2011 08:26 AM

                  I like mayo on the outside, though more as an easy way of evenly oiling the bread to make it toast better, than as a flavoring. Restaurants probably brush the bread with melted butter (or what ever fat they use on the grill).

                  1. re: paulj
                    greygarious RE: paulj Feb 13, 2011 08:45 AM

                    Boston has a controversial outfit called Phantom Gourmet which purports to review restaurants on its TV and radio shows but is more about advertising. The impartiality of the reviews may be debatable but there is a value to the TV show in that you can see what the restaurant's interior and plates of food actually look like; you get an idea of portion size and diner demographics too.

                    Today they covered Cheeseboy, a place in commuter rail's South Station, that features a variety of GCS and tomato soup offerings. The bread is buttered by sliding it over a roller, the bottom of which is partially submerged in melted butter. Too bad that's not practical for home kitchens!

                    1. re: greygarious
                      DiningDiva RE: greygarious Feb 13, 2011 09:10 AM

                      " The bread is buttered by sliding it over a roller, the bottom of which is partially submerged in melted butter. Too bad that's not practical for home kitchens!"

                      It is!!

                      That's a standard piece of restaurant equipment available at almost any restaurant supply store and probably on line.

                      You can get one from Amazon.com, this is what they look like - http://www.amazon.com/Butter-Roller-S...

                      I think the Amazon price is somewhat on the high side, a resto supply store will probably have it cheaper.

                      1. re: greygarious
                        paulj RE: greygarious Feb 13, 2011 09:14 AM

                        Every worry about where to set the freshly buttered (or mayo'd) surface while assembling the sandwich? In the normal world of sandwich making you always keep the buttered face up. :)

                        1. re: paulj
                          greygarious RE: paulj Feb 13, 2011 09:27 AM

                          Paulj, try putting just the buttered bottom slice into the pan, then quickly assemble the cheese and other ingredients atop it and add the buttered top slice. Mis-en-place helps here, so the bottom slice isn't burnt by the time you're ready to flip the sandwich.

                          DiningDiva, I said that for home use the device is impractical, not unavailable. Unless the family makes a LOT of toast or grilled cheese at a time, and frequently, it's another item to clean and store.

                2. re: Gio
                  c oliver RE: Gio Feb 13, 2011 06:45 AM

                  I use mustard on some panini but never thought of it for GCS. Sounds good. Warm mayo has never really sung to me but if you and gg like it I'm going to give it a try.

            2. Karl S RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 09:25 AM

              Jarlsberg. It's in the family of "Swiss"-type cheeses, but with superior melting qualities and moderate in price. Personally, I think spending a lot of money on a high-end cheese (Comte, for example) for an American grilled cheese sandwich is to defeat the point - it should be made from relatively frugal ingredients - there's something a bit obscene about tarting up peasant or "vernacular" foods up a la gourmande (like, say, making a Jello salad with Beluga caviar, truffles and fennel pollen).

              1 Reply
              1. re: Karl S
                King of Northern Blvd RE: Karl S Feb 12, 2011 04:28 PM

                +1 on the Jarlsberg. I remember a while back CI stating that after a taste test Jarlsberg came out on top. I tried it and have been hooked ever since.

              2. greygarious RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 09:28 AM

                Try sliced American cheese from the deli counter - this cheese is NOT the same as processed cheese food singles slices like Kraft. I would use one slice of American together with one slice of cheddar.

                Presumably fourunder is being facetious. Velveeta is, like Kraft singles, highly processed. You want something labeled "cheese", not "cheese food".

                1 Reply
                1. re: greygarious
                  fourunder RE: greygarious Feb 12, 2011 09:35 AM

                  Presumably fourunder is being facetious...


                  Yes.....but it does come in a block. :)

                  I don't think there's any real cheese that can come close to taste and texture...only other processed cheeses.

                2. David11238 RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 09:37 AM

                  It's doesn't taste like American but I love smoked mozzarella. Being that you're located in NYC, Joe's Dairy can make a mean smoked mozzarella. The only great "plain" mozzarella I've found for sandwiches is located in Hoboken, NJ. It's a bit of a trek but Vito's and Fiore's make excellent in-house muzz. Both sell 'em in blocks by the pound. Otherwise, I Horizon makes Organic American Cheese Slices as well as Organic Cheddar. I've had the American cheese and in terms of taste it's no better or worse than Kraft.

                  1. h
                    Heatherb RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 09:37 AM

                    Grilled cheese is one of my favorite sandwiches!

                    -Get some deli American cheese, sliced thin. This is along the same lines of Kraft singles, but MUCH tastier. I always get the white american because I think it doesn't look as scary as that bright orange stuff.

                    -Try some brie with fig jam on sourdough. AMAZING. (actually, I'm pretty sure any type of fruit jam will work wonderfully)

                    -Also good on sourdough is fresh mozz, with pesto and fresh tomatoes if they're in season. I've heard fontina works well too.

                    -I've never really liked cheddar grilled cheeses, but they're ok with tomato soup, imho.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Heatherb
                      arp29 RE: Heatherb Feb 12, 2011 09:44 AM

                      I agree that the deli American cheese sliced thin (particularly Land O'Lakes) is a tasty step up from Kraft singles for GCS!

                      1. re: arp29
                        fourunder RE: arp29 Feb 12, 2011 09:51 AM

                        While deli american cheese is the obvious choice as the next step up, whether sliced at the counter, or purchased pre-sliced in blocks, I find sometimes the cheese can be overly salty. ....this coming from someone who normally adds salt to most food items.

                        1. re: fourunder
                          Heatherb RE: fourunder Feb 12, 2011 11:07 AM

                          Yeah, I forgot about that - it IS a salty cheese. For some reason, that makes me think of when I was a kid. My grandfather would buy a big block of white American cheese from MAKRO (a precursor to Sam's Club and BJ's) and bring it home and set it on the kitchen table in front of me and my three younger cousins. He'd hand us one of those cheese slicers that you can use to shave a thin slice off and basically let us have that as our afternoon snack. I think we once worked our way through half a big block of that cheese before him and grandma noticed. Small kids can be like piranhas.

                          1. re: Heatherb
                            lynnlato RE: Heatherb Feb 12, 2011 12:01 PM

                            Great story, Heather. :)

                            I like cheddar and provolone on country bread slathered with rendered bacon fat instead of butter - the bacon fat makes the bread crisp up much nicer than butter all the while maintaining that gooey center - grilled cheese perfection.

                    2. Uncle Bob RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 09:47 AM

                      Sharp cheddar....Here we call it "red rind" ~~ Then there's grilled pimento & cheese....Sometimes with home grown tomato in the summer........


                      1. jmcarthur8 RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 12:04 PM

                        I like all the flavors when you use 3 or 4 kinds of cheese, but for your purposes, I really think mild cheddar would do the trick. It melts nicely and doesn't have a strong flavor.
                        Don't forget the dill pickle chip on top.

                        1. Bryan Pepperseed RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 12:14 PM

                          Personally, one of the reasons that the link below is still on my "to do" list is that I hate to say goodbye to Kraft also, but I thought I'd post it here anyway for a couple of reasons:

                          1. Might be a good twist for people who already like cheddar versions.
                          2. It shows the "shred cheddar to help it melt faster" trick.


                          1. s
                            sancan RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 01:51 PM

                            You are the ideal customer for the cheese guy at Whole Foods or any similar store. I have a feeling if you simply go and purchase some of the cheeses recommended in this thread, you're in for a shock. Lots of these cheeses are strong tasting - nothing like mild American cheese. If you want to try some of them, simply visit the cheese dude and tell him what you've told us. He'll offer several suggestions, and let you sample a few. They probably won't be inexpensive cheeses, but you can buy a small chunk of one that you like, and the knowledge you have gained will be well worth it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sancan
                              femmevox RE: sancan Feb 12, 2011 07:00 PM

                              I just bought something called "young gouda" at Whole Foods (they had a special). It's very mild and pretty cheap. It's the real cheese I've had that's actually closest tasting to American.

                            2. Jay F RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 01:58 PM

                              I buy the cheap cheddar at whichever store I go to (local chain, WF, TJ) and grate it myself. I like extra sharp. I recommend you try mild. It's a little messy using grated cheese, but the bits that get in the pan taste really good when they melt.

                              1. j
                                JaneEYB RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 02:10 PM

                                You might be interested in a new cookbook that's published soon, 'Grilled Cheese, Please!' by Laura Werlin, who has written several other books on cheese. There are 50 delicious looking cheese sandwiches using lots of interesting cheeses.

                                1. z
                                  ziggylu RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 02:46 PM

                                  This isn't the American cheese taste that you're looking for but one of my very very favorite things to eat - anytime, any place - is a grilled swiss on rye sandwich. If you haven't tried it, do! You might never look backwards at American cheese!

                                  1. DonShirer RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 03:14 PM

                                    Colby cheese (ubiquitous in grocery deli cases) was once an ingredient (with cheddar) of those "American" slices, and makes an acceptably oozy toasted cheese sandwich (be sure to squish it down with a spatula and use a spritz of olive oil on each side to get the texture just right). During summer months, I often insert a thin slice of fresh Cherokee Purple tomato when available, and in winter when it's not, have been known to add a dash of Russian dressing.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: DonShirer
                                      gfr1111 RE: DonShirer Feb 13, 2011 05:41 AM

                                      I agree with Don Shirer about the Colby. As I've been reading this thread, I have been asking myself, "Why hasn't anyone mentioned Colby? I thought it was one of the first that would be mentioned." As soon as you get away from processed cheese, you give up something in texture, but Colby is about as close as you are going to come. And, even though you've given up something in texture, you've regained it in flavor. Colby is mild, but it definitely has more flavor than American cheese!

                                    2. s
                                      sushigirlie RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 04:30 PM

                                      I like fontina. I'm not fond of aggressive or sharp flavors in a grilled cheese.

                                      1. paulj RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 04:52 PM

                                        Learning what about processed foods? Something specific about kraft singles?

                                        In sense all cheese is 'processed' - milk has been heated, a coagulant added, curds and whey separated, salt added, etc. A key difference in so called processed cheese is that whey has been added back in to give a softer texture.

                                        Think about the qualities that you like about the singles. Uniform slices? Mild taste? Melting quality? Low cost?

                                        Chreddar melts fine, but is harder, and can be quite a bit more assertive (depending on age).

                                        Swiss cheese also have good melting qualities; but again the taste is stronger. And there are processed swiss cheeses (such as those little Laughing Cow wedges).

                                        1. t
                                          tzurriz RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 04:56 PM

                                          muenster works really well in grilled cheese. Yum.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: tzurriz
                                            enbell RE: tzurriz Feb 12, 2011 08:32 PM

                                            Yes this is very mild and melts easily

                                          2. LaureltQ RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 07:37 PM

                                            Brie melts beautifully. Linked is the greatest sandwich I've ever had. It took a while to throw together, due to the prep of the pears and bacon, but it was magnificent.


                                            1. DiningDiva RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 08:38 PM

                                              Jack cheese and Pepper Jack make pretty tastey grilled cheese

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: DiningDiva
                                                scarmoza RE: DiningDiva Feb 13, 2011 09:00 AM

                                                Original Sonoma Jack is another that's lovely grated and melted in a grilled sandwich. Even nicer mixed with an equal amount of grated sharp cheddar.

                                                I'm a strong believer of a thin schmear of mayo on the outside, too.

                                              2. paulj RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 12, 2011 09:17 PM

                                                If nutrition is part of why you are looking at alternatives, beware of the trade offs.

                                                For a start you can look at labels, or a site like http://caloriecount.about.com/calorie...
                                                Pay close attention to serving size. The singles have defined size; cheese you slice yourself does not.

                                                Looking at a few alternatives, it appears that the singles have less fat (per weight) than 'real cheese', but sodium is higher (though some real cheese can be quite salty as well).

                                                I generally prefer strongly flavored cheeses. They tend to be harder, with less moisture, and hence higher in fat. But with more flavor I am satisfied with smaller portions.

                                                1. j
                                                  jello RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 13, 2011 04:37 AM

                                                  Until this year I was always a American Cheese grilled cheese fan but just started using Muenster and I am now a huge fan of them. Muenster melts so nicely and add some sliced tomato and a little salt and pepper and you have a winner!

                                                  1. l
                                                    Liz K RE: mcsmithnyc Feb 13, 2011 05:24 AM

                                                    A good compromise might be Kraft Deluxe. It's cheese, not cheese "food", sliced, but not individually wrapped in plastic, and the typical american cheese taste, which is just what you want sometimes!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Liz K
                                                      gfr1111 RE: Liz K Feb 13, 2011 05:45 AM

                                                      Thanks, Liz K. I'm surprised. I thought Kraft Deluxe was Kraft's brand name for a particular line processed American cheese. I guess I haven't looked at the label. I'll check it out the next time I'm in the grocery store (like today).

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