April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day but all of April is National Grilled Cheese Month. Here are some tips from Sara Lee Artesano Bread: the three “Bs” for the perfect grilled cheese sandwich:
Base. The bread you choose guides the personality of your sandwich. Use one that crisps nicely on the outside—ideally not supermarket white bread.
Butter. While most recipes direct you to spread softened butter on the outside of the bread slices, Sara Lee recommends melting it in the pan first, then moving the bread over the melted butter. This enables every corner of bread to be coated for an even, edge-to-edge sear.
Blend. In grade school, grilled cheese sandwiches were most often American cheese or Velveeta, with a slice of tomato and some bacon on a lucky day. But we have grown-up palates now, and those two cheeses should go the way of Puff The Magic Dragon.
THINK OUTSIDE THE VELVEETA BOX
We respect anyone’s right to use American or Velveeta cheeses, but here are a dozen better choices: Brie, Cheddar, Emmental, Époisses, Fontina, Gruyère, Havarti, Halloumi, Mozzarella, Pepper Jack, Provolone and Taleggio (among others).
Our personal favorite of the moment: Beecher’s Flagship—a slightly nutty blend of Cheddar and Gruyère cultures—on raisin-walnut bread; or any of those 12 cheeses on slices of a rustic loaf with tomato* and fresh basil leaves. Our forever favorite: truffle cheese!
Don’t hesitate to pile anything on top of the cheese, from bacon and ham to condiments (caramelized onions, chiles (slices or flakes), chutney, Dijon, olives, pickles, prepared horseradish, preserves, sautéed mushrooms, tapenade, whatever) to fresh herbs, berries and apple slices. Look through the fridge and the pantry. Got capers? Use ‘em. Pickled jalapeños? Ditto.
ON-TREND GRILLED CHEESE RECIPES
Sara Lee Artesano Bread has taken three of the top food trends of 2016—Hawaiian flavors, vegetable-centric dishes and fermentation—and turned them into grilled cheese recipes.
Hawaiian Grilled Cheese: Pair a sharp, salty cheese with meat and fruit. For starters, try Cheddar with ham or turkey and tropical fruits such as mango and pineapple. Sara Lee’s Aloha Pork Grilled Cheese layers Hawaiian Chili Pepper Havarti (substitute Pepper Jack) with tangy pork, barbecue sauce and pineapple rings. Here’s the recipe.
Vegetable Grilled Cheese: Pair a sweet-and-slightly-salty cheese with leafy greens. The sweetness and saltiness of a cheese like Gruyère blends nicely with fresh greens. Try a Farm-To-Table Grilled Cheese with Gruyère, microgreens and a fried egg. Here’s the recipe.
Top: “Fermentation” grilled cheese with Fontina, pickles and charred red onions. Bottom: “Farm To Table” grilled cheese with Gruyère, baby arugula and cracked pepper. Both sandwiches are made with Sara Lee Artesano bread. Photos courtesy Sara Lee.
Fermentation Grilled Cheese: Pair a semi-soft cheese with any type of pickled vegetables. This Zesty Grilled Cheese sandwich combines Fontina cheese with spicy pickle slices, charred red onion and aïoli (garlic mayonnaise). Here’s the recipe.
We have many more ideas for grilled cheese sandwiches. Just type into the search box at the top of the page, and get lots of options for National Grilled Cheese Month.
*When there are no decent tomatoes to be had, we default to sundried tomatoes or roasted red pepper (pimiento).