Any time is a good time for a grilled cheese sandwich. Don’t you agree? But what do you do if you don’t have a stove handy? My solution: use an iron!
Chefs know preparation can make or break a culinary creation. So, I carefully assemble all the ingredients and tools on my check list before beginning sandwich construction.
- ironing board
- roll of aluminum foil
- buttering knife
- kitchen timer
- ice pack
- telephone with paramedics emergency number in favorites
- my faithful fire extinguisher
- two slices of bread
- sliced cheese
My ironing board is strewn with clothes, craft projects & a couple science experiments. When this happens, I reach for a good sturdy book. If it’s just me, I grab “The Guide to Non-Invasive Cardiac Diagnosis”. But, when I’m cooking for friends, I pull out “Volume One of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary”
I like to protect my books and convert in to a fully functional grilling station with a snug veneer of aluminum foil. With this precaution, I prevent any book damage. This doesn’t mean that I carelessly use a library book or one a friend has loaned me. That would be irresponsible and taint the sandwich with the taste of disappointment.
With everything is in place, it’s time to pre-heat the iron to the hottest setting without steam. From this moment on, I treat the iron with the respect any blazing-hot kitchen implement deserves. Nothing ruins snack time like a 3rd degree burn and an unexpected jaunt to the emergency room.
Now on to the food prep! Today, I have chosen a light sourdough as my sandwich bread. Other times, I like a delicate Hokaido milk bread or a hearty rye. I like to be flexible here to add variety to my sandwich repertoire.
With the designated buttering knife I spread a soft unsalted butter on one side of each bread slice. If you decide to make a grilled cheese, do you need to use unsalted butter? No. Go with the flow. You can use a fresh tasting goat butter, golden ghee, a heart healthy bread spread, schmaltz or even sheep butter.
**Rumor has it that the illustrious podcaster, Jesse Thorn used mayonnaise to make a grilled cheese and he said “it works great.” There was no mention of what his bread or cheese choices were. Mr. Thorn has not been contacted to confirm or deny this culinary rumor.
I take a large sheet of foil and place it on a flat surface. Without the use of any measuring devices, I confidently place one slice of bread, spread side down, in the center of the foil sheet.
Depending on my mood and the contents of my cheese drawer, I might go with a sassy Swiss, a smokey gouda or a sweet Norwegian Gjetost. Today, I’m going with a classic medium sharp cheddar. Cheese placement is crucial. The objective is to cover the bread evenly & completely with a minimum of cheese-droop over the edge.
The second slice of bread, butter side up, goes on top of the cheese. It looks good enough to eat! I resist. The finished results will be worth the wait!
I conceal the sandwich with a second large square of foil. The sandwich assembly is now complete and ready to be transported to the grilling station.
**Technical Note: The sandwich assembly is a vital part of the sandwich preparation. Failure to use a sandwich containment unit could result in personal injury and the heartbreak of cheese-clogged steam vents in the iron.
I position the sandwich module in the middle of the grilling station. I sweep my gaze across the surface to assure there is no plastic on the grilling surface that can melt or any flammable items that could burn or explode and ruin my sandwich.
Timing is everything when it comes to the success of this classic culinary delight. I collect my thoughts for a moment, set the timer for 30 seconds..and execute a precise series of actions,
I place the largest portion of the hot iron directly over the foil sheathed sandwich. I hold it firmly in place without smashing it down. The timer sounds and without delay I safely place the iron back on a heat proof surface.
Grasping the foil packet firmly, I gracefully flip It over. My best time for the flip is 2.6 seconds. I’m sure this is a world’s record.
*Safety Note* If you are making your own grilled cheese sandwich and you are not terrycloth, you will want to use oven mitts to execute the flip. This adds more control which creates an elegant arch of the sandwich as it is flipped with a secure grip.
I set the timer for the final 30 seconds and place the iron on the flip-side. The buttery aroma is intoxicating and the sizzling is music to my ears. Soon the timer announces the end of the ironing. With a hearty thank you, I return the iron to a heat proof surface, turn off the heat and unplug the cord. Another job well done.
Peeling back the top foil, the most glorious of all sandwiches is revealed.
Let’s take a moment to enjoy the beauty of this golden brown delight together.
Ok. that’s enough enjoying. It’s time for a taste!
The tantalizing aroma! The delicate crunch! The blanket of gooey cheese that caresses my taste buds. How could I not be moved to poetry?
Grilled Cheese Haiku
My toasty sandwich
Delicious and comforting
Every bite heaven!