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Grilled cheese - to squish or not to squish?

fldhkybnva Jan 13, 2013 09:56 PM

Are you a spatula squisher?

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  1. iL Divo RE: fldhkybnva Jan 13, 2013 10:00 PM

    not a spatula squisher but do squish.
    I use my cast iron pig shaped "bacon flattener" weight atop the grilled cheese. heats it quick and flatter with ooey gooeyness of melted molten deliciousness.

    1. c
      cheesemonger RE: fldhkybnva Jan 13, 2013 10:17 PM

      I know it's semantics, but press gently, yes. Squish, no. :)

      1 Reply
      1. re: cheesemonger
        fldhkybnva RE: cheesemonger Jan 13, 2013 10:30 PM

        Not semantics, there are the pressers who ensure the cheese on both sides gets a good stick and the squishers who I have observed try to transform a sandwich into a pancake :)

      2. ChrisOfStumptown RE: fldhkybnva Jan 13, 2013 10:58 PM

        I use a pot lid to weight the sandwich, same as i do for grilled bread. Not sure if that qualifies me as a squisher or not.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChrisOfStumptown
          Jay F RE: ChrisOfStumptown Jan 14, 2013 07:10 AM

          That's a super squisher.

        2. h
          heterodoxia RE: fldhkybnva Jan 13, 2013 11:19 PM

          For a dish that basically cooks itself, I like to feel as though I'm contributing in some way. I prefer the phrase "love squeezes," personally.

          2 Replies
          1. re: heterodoxia
            fldhkybnva RE: heterodoxia Jan 13, 2013 11:30 PM

            I am not a fan of the squished sandwich, but as a kid I had to deal with it as my mom is and she had the spatula in hand. She always told me the same thing...it's like she couldn't just stand there but had to fiddle with it somehow. I admit I am quite impatient with the grilled cheese and usually end up with less than perfect brown because I crank up the heat as I hate standing there doing nothing. My best sandwiches are when I am walking around the house finishing up quick chores and put it on low and slow.

            1. re: fldhkybnva
              sandylc RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 12:06 PM

              Ha! My mom was a fiddler, too. She could never master any kind of fried potato because she couldn't wait for them to brown and release from the pan, so they were greasy, mushy, and albino. She just kept violently scraping them up from the pan! Sorry, OT.

              Back OT; the low and slow works for me on the grilled cheese, too.

          2. m
            magiesmom RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 05:04 AM

            I am a gentle squisher. I like the chese to ooze a bit.

            1 Reply
            1. re: magiesmom
              alliegator RE: magiesmom Jan 14, 2013 06:44 AM

              Another gentle squisher here.

            2. tcamp RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 05:27 AM

              No squishing for me.

              1. Jay F RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 07:09 AM

                I don't squish. I've been eating grilled cheese a lot lately, and I never squish.

                I put a lid on the pan until side one is done, which helps melt the cheese(s), and isn't melting the cheese(s) what squishers hope to accomplish by squishing? (Or is it merely to darken the bread, which is not a problem for me?)

                I don't know. All I know is, I don't squish.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Jay F
                  alliegator RE: Jay F Jan 14, 2013 08:21 AM

                  Your suggestion that maybe it's the darkening of the bread made my lightbulb turn on. I think that's exactly why I do it. I want it to be brown all the way to the crust without that brown middle, not so brown outer edge. When I picture myself pressing down, it's around the edges.

                  1. re: Jay F
                    lisavf RE: Jay F Jan 14, 2013 08:51 AM

                    My method exactly. Cast iron pan, low heat, tight-fitting cover until the first side is done. I never squish, press, etc. I always get a lovely brown (just leave it on longer if I flip and it's not brown enough) and the cheese is totally melted and gooey.

                    1. re: lisavf
                      Jay F RE: lisavf Jan 14, 2013 08:52 AM

                      I use a cast iron pan, too. Enameled. I make so many things in it.

                    2. re: Jay F
                      KailuaGirl RE: Jay F Jan 15, 2013 11:05 AM

                      I do the same thing with a lid on the pan until the cheese is melting and the bread is golden on the bottom. Then add the top slice of bread, flip, and cook until that side is also golden brown. Some cheese almost inevitably oozes out of the sandwich, but that tastes good, too. No squishing unless you count cutting the sandwich on the plate as squishing...

                    3. h
                      Heatherb RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 07:16 AM

                      I am not a squisher, maybe a few impatient presses with the spatula. My grandmother however, would make me grilled cheeses on her Foreman grill. But she was using just plain old Wonderbread rather than the heartier breads I preferred. So I would get a weirdly squished and ridged sandwich. Always cracked me up and it tasted fine.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Heatherb
                        fldhkybnva RE: Heatherb Jan 14, 2013 07:22 AM

                        What bread do you prefer? I'm kind of over the usual sliced bread.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva
                          cheesecake17 RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 08:31 AM

                          A favorite is raisin bread with feta. Sweet/salty combo.
                          I also like Jerusalem bagels (flat sesame seed roll with a hole) with tomato, feta, olive oil, zaatar.

                          Husband likes whole wheat with cheddar. Or pita with mozzarella and allspice. He's boring!

                          1. re: fldhkybnva
                            Heatherb RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 09:31 AM

                            Thick-sliced sourdough. A little butter on the outfacing sides. Soooo yummy.

                        2. h
                          HillJ RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 07:23 AM

                          No squishing making grilled cheese but yes when making panini. Go figure.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: HillJ
                            fldhkybnva RE: HillJ Jan 14, 2013 08:51 AM

                            Yea, well to me they are different. I always squish a panini and never squish a grilled cheese more than a gentle press to adhere the cheese across the sandwich. But, my paninis are usually loaded up with veggies and chicken and so even when squished they are still quite thick and hearty and a good squish is necessary to make sure that the cheese sticks on both sides. However, with grilled cheese I like it simple - cheese and bread, so a squish makes for a thin sandwich which I don't enjoy

                            1. re: fldhkybnva
                              HillJ RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 08:58 AM

                              Exactly my point which perhaps was missed in my short reply. I don't press down a grilled cheese ever but I've never made a panini or bought one that didn't include the press and it's interesting how both being warm, filled sandwiches can be prepared so differently.

                              I don't recall having a cheese melt issue with grilled cheese. I go low and slow on the heat and the cheese does its thing. I love toast so I like the low & slow method so that the bread toasts at the same time the cheese is melting. Otherwises the toast burns while the inside is still not heated thru.

                              1. re: fldhkybnva
                                HillJ RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 09:08 AM

                                Oh and I shred the cheese unless it's a soft spreadable cheese to begin with. Today's french onion soup and cheese grilled cheese for instance consists of shredded jarlsberg. No pressing required.

                              2. re: HillJ
                                RetiredChef RE: HillJ Jan 15, 2013 10:34 AM

                                My feelings exactly; It's called a grilled cheese not a squished cheese (Panini) for a reason.

                                1. re: HillJ
                                  wyogal RE: HillJ Jan 15, 2013 02:27 PM

                                  Same here.

                                2. dave_c RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 08:43 AM

                                  depends upon the bread... Soft white bread is no, but a hardy sliced sourdough is a maybe. However, in general, no squish.

                                  1. r
                                    rasputina RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 09:04 AM

                                    no, unless I'm making a panini

                                    1. jrvedivici RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 09:24 AM

                                      I'm not sure if this qualifies as child abuse however I feel I was severely wronged and or neglected as a child. My mother use to have a toaster oven......(the lack of a pop up toaster is a whole other issue with me) however sadly for me growing up my version of a grilled cheese was two slices of bread with a slice of cheese on each side placed face up into a toaster oven until completed then pressed together!!!!!!!!!!!!!! {{AGHAST}}

                                      It wasn't until in my late teenage years did I learn of the delectable method of pan frying a grilled cheese to it's golden toasted wonder!!

                                      I am a squisher for sure!! I also enjoy making ham and cheese sandwiches, or ham egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches using this same method. I have to make up for a lost childhood !!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jrvedivici
                                        alliegator RE: jrvedivici Jan 14, 2013 09:48 AM

                                        I'm terribly sorry for the suffering you've endured. That's just wrong and sad :(

                                      2. hambone RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 09:26 AM

                                        I'll often use my stove top Belgian waffle maker and squarsh my grilled cheese.

                                        I love those crusty/chewy bits you get.

                                        1. chefjeannine RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 09:30 AM

                                          I'm a full on squisher. When it comes to grilled cheese, the flatter the better (for me at least).

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: chefjeannine
                                            hambone RE: chefjeannine Jan 14, 2013 09:56 AM

                                            Have you ever tried a waffle press?

                                            1. re: hambone
                                              chefjeannine RE: hambone Jan 14, 2013 12:01 PM

                                              No, but it sounds intriguing. Will have to try next time.

                                          2. b
                                            ButterYum RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 10:47 AM

                                            I'm not a squisher, unless I'm in a panini kind of mood in which case I use a cast iron grill pan instead of a cast iron skillet.

                                            1. PotatoHouse RE: fldhkybnva Jan 14, 2013 05:11 PM

                                              Squish both sides so the bread is flat and crispy!! YUMMM!!!!!!

                                              1. k
                                                Kalivs RE: fldhkybnva Jan 15, 2013 01:02 AM

                                                hmmm....I didn't really have a grilled cheese sandwich until I moved here. I grew up with cheese toast which was made under the grill (broiler) -- cheddar on bread with tomatoes, onions & coriander. In the late 70s we discovered the sandwich maker & make fresh mozerella, basil, tomatoes & rye. Although the sandwich maker has been known to contain bananas & jam on wheat. Why is it called a grilled cheese if it's fried?

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Kalivs
                                                  fldhkybnva RE: Kalivs Jan 15, 2013 05:56 AM

                                                  The other night I really just wanted cheesy bread but didn't know if a slice of cheese on toast would work (no idea why it wouldn't) and then discovered cheese on toast online. Do you prefer either? I am also interested in the answer to your question as to why it's called grilled

                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                    Will Owen RE: fldhkybnva Jan 15, 2013 11:24 AM

                                                    I believe they came to be called that when they were on the menu in coffee shops and diners, and were cooked on the flat grill that was used for any fried dish. Of course those things are technically not grills at all, but nobody's come up with another name for them, and they are ubiquitous, so "grills" they are.

                                                    1. re: Will Owen
                                                      HillJ RE: Will Owen Jan 15, 2013 11:33 AM

                                                      Right on. My first grilled cheese sandwich was age eight at a diner..and the flat grill was were I watched, from the counter seating, the cook make my sandwich step by step. No pressing, just flipping. He slopped melted butter on the grill, used two slices of thick cut Wonder bread and yellow American cheese. Died and gone to heaven delicious.

                                                2. i
                                                  INDIANRIVERFL RE: fldhkybnva Jan 15, 2013 10:50 AM

                                                  If you squish it, the grape jelly may spurt out.

                                                  1. Will Owen RE: fldhkybnva Jan 15, 2013 11:19 AM

                                                    When I was a kid these were referred to as "toasted cheese" and were made two at a time in an electric press, actually a sort of convertible waffle iron. I'm trying to remember whether it had two sets of plates, waffled and smooth, or simply reversible ones - I thought I still had one but can't find it - but sandwich-toasting was what it did most often. I am therefore predisposed towards squishing, and when I'm making the sandwich on sourdough I will squish. Our standard house bread, however, is a flourless sprouted wheat-berry loaf (from Trader Joe's, a plug) that resists squishery, so I don't bother.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Will Owen
                                                      sandylc RE: Will Owen Jan 15, 2013 11:44 AM

                                                      I have periodically seen references to "toasted cheese sandwiches".

                                                    2. Veggo RE: fldhkybnva Jan 15, 2013 11:31 AM

                                                      For me, a gentle spatula squish, with about the same pressure as one hamster body-slamming another in a UFC octogan.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Veggo
                                                        sandylc RE: Veggo Jan 15, 2013 11:44 AM

                                                        Just enough so that the entire surface of the bread makes good contact with the pan/griddle and thus browns evenly!

                                                        1. re: sandylc
                                                          fldhkybnva RE: sandylc Jan 15, 2013 03:35 PM

                                                          I like this level of squish

                                                      2. h
                                                        hippioflov RE: fldhkybnva Jan 15, 2013 02:24 PM

                                                        Definitely squish!

                                                        1. pagesinthesun RE: fldhkybnva Jan 15, 2013 02:41 PM

                                                          I squish mine in the panini press or even the waffle iron! Crunchy thin bread and gooey cheese........yum!

                                                          1. z
                                                            Zalbar RE: fldhkybnva Jan 16, 2013 06:42 AM

                                                            Bread, cheese, baking sheet, cooling rack, heated 350 degree oven.


                                                            And I can do 2-4 at a time.

                                                            8 Replies
                                                            1. re: Zalbar
                                                              HillJ RE: Zalbar Jan 16, 2013 08:51 AM

                                                              Zalbar, what do you use to keep the sandwich moist and buttery?

                                                              If I followed those directions exactly I'd have dry bread with melted cheese.

                                                              1. re: HillJ
                                                                Zalbar RE: HillJ Jan 17, 2013 08:53 AM

                                                                If you must you can butter the bread. I tend to find it a bit too greasy, though I have been known to rub the bread with garlic beforehand. Plenty of moisture in the cheese, I toast it for the texture.

                                                                1. re: Zalbar
                                                                  Veggo RE: Zalbar Jan 17, 2013 08:59 AM

                                                                  This sounds more like a toasted cheese than a grilled cheese.

                                                                  1. re: Zalbar
                                                                    fldhkybnva RE: Zalbar Jan 17, 2013 10:34 AM

                                                                    I have always wanted to try this either with raw garlic or roasted. With the raw clove do you just cut a slice and rub away? How much roasted would you spread on and it should be on the inside facing the cheese so it doesn't burn right?

                                                                    1. re: Zalbar
                                                                      HillJ RE: Zalbar Jan 17, 2013 10:36 AM

                                                                      Open face or closed sandwich when it goes in the oven? This still sounds too dry for me. The way I was taught, a grilled cheese was all about the moisture and gooey cheese otherwise you're making cheese toast or garlic bread.

                                                                      To each their own :) Zalbar. I appreciate learning about your preference too.

                                                                      1. re: Zalbar
                                                                        Jay F RE: Zalbar Jan 17, 2013 12:44 PM

                                                                        "If you must" takes it out of the realm of grilled cheese for me. It's something else, your cheese sandwich.

                                                                    2. re: Zalbar
                                                                      jrvedivici RE: Zalbar Jan 17, 2013 09:10 AM

                                                                      Yes that's the same as I explained about my neglected childhood above.....my mother use to make them in a toaster oven the exact same way and I never found them to be as good as the "grilled/fried" version in a pan with butter!

                                                                      1. re: Zalbar
                                                                        biondanonima RE: Zalbar Jan 17, 2013 11:40 AM

                                                                        I use this method when I want to do a bunch in a hurry, but I get the best of both worlds by buttering the bread and starting the sandwiches in a skillet. If you use fairly high heat, you can get a nice dark brown color on the outside of the sandwiches very fast (long before the cheese is melted). Plop the browned sandwiches on a baking sheet and stick it in the oven (I keep the oven lowish to prevent any further browning while still melting the cheese). You can also keep a large quantity of them piping hot and melty this way.

                                                                      2. TrishUntrapped RE: fldhkybnva Jan 17, 2013 09:32 AM

                                                                        I'm a weighter.

                                                                        This is how I make a Three Cheese Crisp, my original sandwich and finalist in Artisanal Bistro's Best Grilled Cheese in New York contest.

                                                                        1. Fill hearty sourdough bread with grated Fontina and Gruyere Cheeses stuffed with a pair of fresh-baked Parmesan Crisps.

                                                                        2. Butter outside of the bread with fresh rosemary-infused unsalted butter.

                                                                        3. Grill in a pan over medium heat with a chef's weight on top. If I didn't have the weight, I would press down with a lid/spatula.

                                                                        4. The finished product. (Wrong photo, see correction below.)

                                                                        5. Hallmark of a good Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Crunchy, toasty bread with ooey gooey cheese filling.

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: TrishUntrapped
                                                                          TrishUntrapped RE: TrishUntrapped Jan 17, 2013 09:40 AM

                                                                          For some reason, the fourth picture above is wrong. This is the proper one:

                                                                          4. Finished product.

                                                                          1. re: TrishUntrapped
                                                                            fldhkybnva RE: TrishUntrapped Jan 17, 2013 10:35 AM

                                                                            Your squish does not result in a pancake sandwich. If all squish resulted in that deliciousness I'd be all for squishing. I assume you use a pretty hearty bread?

                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                              TrishUntrapped RE: fldhkybnva Jan 17, 2013 11:31 AM

                                                                              Thanks fld. The goal is to get a crunchy toasted bread with a cooked and creamy center.

                                                                              A mild weight doesn't flatten the sandwich totally but it does help melt all the cheese. Grating the cheeses and not using slices or chunks ensures superior meltiness too.

                                                                              I use a very good bakery-style sourdough bread for this sandwich. The extra tang in the bread's flavor is a nice contrast to just plain white and the bread's sturdiness makes it toast up nicely.

                                                                              BTW, I have asked CH to remove the double post.

                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                biondanonima RE: fldhkybnva Jan 17, 2013 11:41 AM

                                                                                I agree - I'm a non-squisher when using soft bread, but if I have something with that much structure I find that a press helps it cook evenly without turning it into a pancake.

                                                                            2. re: TrishUntrapped
                                                                              HillJ RE: TrishUntrapped Jan 17, 2013 10:05 AM

                                                                              fun pics.

                                                                              1. re: HillJ
                                                                                TrishUntrapped RE: HillJ Jan 17, 2013 11:35 AM

                                                                                Thanks, I love making this sandwich and giving demos at a local Farmers Market.

                                                                                Been serving it with a shooter of homemade Gazpacho to give it a nice acidic balance — my take on the classic Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup.

                                                                                1. re: TrishUntrapped
                                                                                  HillJ RE: TrishUntrapped Jan 17, 2013 11:39 AM

                                                                                  Your shredding the cheese pics wasn't lost on me. I use the same method. Those shooters sound delicious!

                                                                            3. Veggo RE: TrishUntrapped Jan 17, 2013 09:46 AM

                                                                              That'll work. Lots of love.

                                                                              1. Jay F RE: TrishUntrapped Jan 17, 2013 12:46 PM

                                                                                That looks mighty nice, Trish.

                                                                                1. j
                                                                                  jujuthomas RE: fldhkybnva Jan 17, 2013 10:03 AM

                                                                                  i had to make a grilled cheese, just to check and see if I was a squisher... apparently I'm not! :-D BUT, the "cheese" I use doesn't get really gooey ooey like real cheese, so no point in squishing.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: jujuthomas
                                                                                    fldhkybnva RE: jujuthomas Jan 17, 2013 10:36 AM

                                                                                    What is this "cheese" you speak of?

                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                      jujuthomas RE: fldhkybnva Jan 22, 2013 10:48 AM

                                                                                      I have a dairy allergy so I'm using Veggie brand American flavor cheese slices or Daiya brand cheddar flavor shreds.

                                                                                  2. k
                                                                                    kseiverd RE: fldhkybnva Jan 17, 2013 12:46 PM

                                                                                    No conscious effort to "squish" but do use one of those"pig" bacon presses... just laid on top.

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