Disclosure: I’ve partnered with Wisconsin Cheese to share the Grilled Cheese Recipe Showdown with you. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Barefeet In The Kitchen possible. As always, all thoughts are my own.
I’m thrilled to tell you that I have partnered with Wisconsin Cheese as a Grilled Cheese Insider for the 2015 Grilled Cheese Recipe Showdown! Today I’m giving you all of my best tips for making the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich. Check them out and then give it your best shot!
First, let’s talk about cheese, cheese, and more cheese! Whether your preference is stretchy, gooey, creamy, crumbling, or smooth, there is a Wisconsin cheese perfect for you. I tested a whole lot of cheeses this past month and I’m sharing a handful of our favorites with you today.
Soft Cheeses – brie, cream cheese
Semi-Soft Cheeses – fontina, Monterey Jack, brick
Hard Cheeses – asiago, parmesan, kasseri
Semi-Hard Cheeses – cheddar, gouda, swiss
Crumbly Cheeses – blue, feta, gorgonzola
Pasta Filata (aka “stretched”) Cheeses – mozzarella, provolone
The soft and semi-soft cheeses work well in a sandwich when stacked with other ingredients, but when melted on their own, we found them to be a little too runny. If you’re partial to a classically simple grilled cheese, you’ll want a firmer cheese to provide more texture.
For instance, I love fontina, but it’s just a little too soft when melted on its own. When I combine fontina with a firmer cheese like cheddar, it becomes a perfectly oozing grilled cheese sandwich with the flavors I love and the texture I want.
Feta is another cheese that will melt best when paired with a firmer cheese. Asiago and Parmesan have great flavor, but take longer to melt and can be overpowering on their own. I mixed a little asiago with cheddar and gouda and it melted beautifully.
If you’re a fan of the grilled cheese you remember from childhood, there is nothing that will beat cheddar on sourdough for a grown-up version of that classic!
I started our melting test by grating all the different cheeses. Once shredded, my family tasted them and we chose our favorites. I tested how easily they’d melt by setting up trays like the one pictured above. Then we started grilling.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve taken the shortcut method plenty of times and used store-bought shredded cheese. It works (and I’ll give you a tip for making it extra gooey) but it doesn’t compare with freshly grated cheeses.
How To Make The Ultimate Grilled Cheese:
Step 1) Choose your bread. My preference is a slightly soft sourdough bread. It crisps up on the outside, giving just a hint of crunch while it stays chewy and soft on the inside.
Step 2) Choose your cheese and shred it. You’ll want to use 1/3 – 2/3 cup of your favorite blend of cheeses. (It will vary depending on the size of your bread.)
Step 3) Spread plenty of room temperature butter on the outside of both pieces of bread. Butter the first slice and drop it butter side down into a hot skillet over medium heat. Cover your slice of bread with shredded cheese. Be generous and use a bit more than you think you need. (You’ll thank me for that later!) Top with the second slice of bread, butter side up.
Step 4) COVER THE PAN WITH A LID. Yes, cover the pan. Let it cook undisturbed for at least a minute. Uncover and check to see if the bottom slice of bread has browned. Let cook until golden brown, usually about 3 minutes on medium heat.
Step 5) Press down slightly on the top slice to help the cheese stick to both slices. Use a thin spatula to carefully flip the sandwich over. COVER WITH A LID once more. If your cheeses aren’t melting as quickly or smoothly as you’d like (especially if you are using pre-shredded cheeses) add one teaspoon of water to the edge of the pan and quickly cover with the lid. This helps steam the cheese and it melts beautifully! (You can thank my friend Rebecca for that awesome tip.)
Step 6) Check to see if the second slice of bread is golden brown. It should take about 3 minutes on medium heat. When it is ready, remove the sandwich to a plate and enjoy!