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Saturday, April 17, 2010

How Do YOU Grill Your Cheese?

It's been pointed out to me, about 6 or 7 times, that April is National Grilled Cheese Month. This makes me laugh for several reasons, not counting that I think it's funny that people tell me these things, AND that there is an entire MONTH for Grilled Cheese. Makes sense, of course. Is there really anything better than gooey cheese and great toasty bread, hot and messy and yummy?

I live by two standards of grilled cheese sandwiches. One, which I try to eat far less frequently, is the true deliciousness of four or five different cheeses, and some prosciutto or bacon, melted together beautifully between two pieces of challah or brioche, with the aid of a well seasoned frying pan and some butter. Did I mention the fried egg in it? Oops.

Guilty? Yes, but still amazingly good.

The other, I eat often. (Probably too often, really.) I break out one of my top 5 appliances, the glorious panini press, and a bit of olive oil spray. I melt together some less than totally bad for me cheese, maybe with some meat (maybe not) on some kind of almost really good for you bread--generally sprouted wheat, if I'm being honest. It's not exactly health food, but it's not bad for me either.

So, in honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I thought I'd share my top 5 tips for a great, good for you grilled cheese:

1: Bread. Choose wisely. Yes, things like buttery brioche are insanely delicious, but they are not so good for my jeans. So, try to pick something a bit denser, with some high protein or great fiber. Ezekial bread works well, and like I said, I live for sprouted wheat bread.

2: Cheese. Duh.  I try and use a little of something really strong and yummy in flavor, like a manchego or an extra sharp great cheddar. Then, if I want more melty goodness, I use a low-fat, part skim mozzarella to help that meltiness come into play. Of course, there are days when nothing but a beautiful piece of fresh buffalo mozzarella will do. Those days, just go with it. You're being healthy in other ways.

3: Flavor. Because you're going the healthier route, and forgoing butter and the fatty deliciousness known as semi-soft cheese, you're going to want something to bite you back. Go for the gold. Spicy grainy mustard, or a great pepper jam. Pesto. A bit of Giardiniera peppers. Don't go overboard, just go enough. And don't forget the salt and pepper!

4: Non-stickiness. Whether you're using a panini press or a grill pan, don't use butter. Just don't do it to yourself. (And if you're one of those people who butter doesn't bother, don't listen to me!) I go for olive oil, or better yet, an olive oil spray.

5: Extra flavor. Better known as dipping! Some of us are dippers, some of us are not. I most DEFINITELY AM! So, dip away in my book. Mix up a crazy good honey mustard, heat up some tomato or roasted red pepper soup (I firmly stand by those cartons of soup from Trader Joe's or Pacific, especially for this!) If you're J, mix up something super spicy and use bbq sauce and probably one other dip.

So enjoy! Grill your cheesy little hearts content! What are your favorite ways to grill some cheese?


  1. Great article, Jill! I think I will try a Manchego & Serrano Ham variation... perhaps a little Malbec to pair? Will let you know how it turns out :)

  2. I worked at the Blue Plate Cafe in high school and became addicted to a simple cheddar on sourdough with bacon and spinach. One time we were out of sourdough so I made one on some kind of raisin nut bread. My grilled cheese tip: never do that. Ever.