I was around nine years old when I first had a grilled cheese sandwich. I was playing with my best friend at his house, playing with water guns and running around without a care in the world. Great times. It got even better when his mom, Tita Penny, called us in and served us grilled cheese sandwiches cut in squares. Up to that day, the only cheese sandwiches I’d had were what my mom passed off as cheese sandwiches — two pieces of white bread with a cold thick slice of cheese in the middle. What I had before me was a piece of golden brown perfection, oozing with melted cheese, coating my fingers and lips with buttery goodness. It would only be after another three years that I learned how to make that sandwich. Mainly because I wasn’t trusted to cook unsupervised, and because I genuinely didn’t know how to make it until I got older.
My first attempt at making a grilled cheese sandwich was a big failure. I didn’t grease the pan, the slice of cheese was too thick (it was a huge slab), and I used too much heat. So, my first grilled cheese attempt resulted to a sandwich that was burnt to a crisp outside, cold and unappetizing in the middle. My next attempt featured cheese singles, white bread, and a high fire. I burned that one too. My third attempt was only months later, after the sting of failure had faded, this time with butter and cheese singles. Finally, a success! It wasn’t anywhere near Tita Penny’s grilled cheese, but it was heaps better than any of previous experiments. It took me almost another decade to refine my grilled cheese game.
One day, I stumbled upon Alton Brown’s grilled cheese video on Youtube. Alton talked about grating the cheese to make it melt evenly and quickly while using two cast iron pans like a panini press. I didn’t have a cast iron pan then though, so I took down some notes and watched the next video. This one featured Eric Greenspan, a man well-known for his grilled cheese prowess, talking about using “mediocre bread” for even browning. The next video lead me back to good old Alton, this time talking about bread pudding and how old or stale crusts made better “sponges” for the custard…then it hit me. It made perfect sense! If mediocre bread made a good crust, then surely stale mediocre bread would be better! And using grated cheese would also allow for a more even melt throughout! That was it, simple ingredients, simple cooking process, simple enjoyment!
So, here you go. After a decade of experimentation and learning from the masters, I present to you, my grilled cheese sandwich.
MBites’ Three Cheese Grilled Cheese
55g mature cheddar
2pc two to three day old jumbo loaf bread
50g unsalted butter
- Mix all three cheeses in a bowl. This makes sure that you get an even bite each time.
- Stuff about 90% of the cheese into one bread slice and top it with another slice.
- Melt half the butter in a pan (low heat) till it starts to sizzle a bit.
- Place the sandwich in the pan and move it around so that it sucks up all the melted butter. Fry for about 15-20s.
- Place the remaining butter on top of the sandwich and flip.
- Fry the other side till it’s just about the same colour as the top slice. Fry for about 15-20s.
- Sprinkle half of the remaining cheese on top of the sandwich and flip. Fry for about 5s
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese onto the other side of the sandwich and flip. Fry for another 5s.
Note: You can get a crunchier crust if you use more butter, but that’s entirely up to you.