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Everyone Say (Grilled) Cheese!

Everyone Say (Grilled) Cheese!

Does your mouth water at the mere suggestion of smooth, mild, patriotic American cheese, creamy Danish Havarti, buttery Norwegian Jarlsberg or sharp Vermont cheddar–maybe even melded together in a crisp, four-cheese Panini sandwich?

Do you routinely eat the shaved Parmesan off the top of your pasta, like frosting off of a birthday cake, even leaving the noodles behind? Does the idea of a perfect plate of sliced sweet pickles, string cheese, rye crackers, and an old movie seem like the best vacation ever? (Who needs 5-star cuisine and a 10-day cruise?!) Or how about a slice of mozzarella and some fragrant pesto, between thick slices of artisan bread, lightly grilled in salted butter? If cheese and its many manifestations are a big part of your DNA (card-carrying Wisconsin residents withstanding), you may be one of millions likely to celebrate April’s designated National Grilled Cheese Month.

In fact according to official records, not only is April National Grilled Cheese Month, but April 12th is identified as National Grilled Cheese Day, so cheese connoisseurs have ample opportunity to immerse themselves in the brilliance of brie and greatness of Gouda, not to mention the wonder of melted Muenster–unparalleled on a grilled bagel with red onion and tomato!

Though the history of “cooked bread and cheese” predates many records, the first U.S. modern accounts link an open-faced sandwich to the 1920s when inexpensive sliced bread and American cheese were readily available. Called a “cheese dream” during the Great Depression, the concept sometimes involved ham or bacon, or perhaps eggs, cayenne, mustard or mayonnaise, browned on both sides and served in tomato sauce at Sunday supper. In fact a 1918 Good Housekeeping magazine also featured cheese dreams.

Maybe you’re a purist and fancy your grilled cheese simple and straight up: American cheese with a little butter on grilled or toasted white, rye or pumpernickel, or you’re something of a grilled cheese voyeur–inspired by the concept of salty Swiss and sliced Bartlett pears on grilled brioche, or maybe tangy goat cheese with roasted red peppers and spinach on grilled ciabatta bread. Whatever you like, and limited only by your culinary imagination, there’s a great grilled cheese experience out there for everyone. From easy and traditional to elaborate and exotic, these tasty variations of warm, toasty cheese sandwiches will make you melt and help you and your family celebrate April’s Grilled Cheese Month in gooey, gastronomical style:

South of the Border Grilled Cheese
1/4 cup tomato-based salsa
2 tablespoons canned fire roasted diced green chilies, drained
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
2 tablespoons butter, softened
8 slices hearty artisan jalapeño bread
4 ounces (1 cup) queso quesadilla cheese,* shredded

In a small bowl, combine salsa, chilies, and taco seasoning; let stand 5 minutes. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Spread salsa mixture on the non-buttered side of 4 slices of bread; top each slice with 1/4 cup cheese. Cover with the remaining 4 slices of bread, buttered side out. Place sandwiches on medium-heat electric griddle or in a preheated skillet over medium heat. Cook 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Serves four.
*Can substitute Monterey Jack, Asado, or other Mexican cheese.

Sourdough, Swiss, and Mango Chutney Grilled Cheese
8 slices sourdough bread
2-3 tablespoons butter, softened
8 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 cup mango chutney (more or less, depending on taste)

Butter both sides of bread, placing 2 slices of cheese and spreading a layer of mango chutney inside each sandwich. Grill in skillet, on medium-heat electric griddle, or in Panini maker. Serves four.

Grilled Cheese, Ham, and Jam on Brioche
8 1/2″-thick slices brioche
2-3 tablespoons butter, softened
8 slices Gruyere cheese
4 slices baked ham, thick cut
1/2 cup strawberry or raspberry jam

Spread four pieces of brioche with jam and a little butter. Top each with ham and Gruyere and another slice of brioche. Butter outside of sandwiches and grill. Serves four.

12 Responses

  1. What about a gooy Velveeta grilled-cheese with a slice of onion.

    by ddeldeb on Apr 26, 2012 at 9:44 pm

  2. Im 65 years old and every time I eat a grill cheese (Tayste Bread & American Cheese & Relish) I think of my Grandmas house in the 1950s it was a staple every weekend and Ill never never forget it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    by Danny Bayhan on Apr 14, 2012 at 4:49 pm

  3. I had a wonderful grilled cheese sandwich and it was cheddar cheese (I think) thinly sliced granny smith apples, bacon, and pesto sauce and it was out of this world…..sounds not so good but was fabulous!

    by Paula Waters on Apr 14, 2012 at 8:47 am

  4. Oh Exploding Mary–as my grandaughters would say, “Pllllleeeeease:!!!

    by PegT on Apr 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm

  5. First-Settle down “Exploding Mary”….it’s just a grilled cheese! A great Grilled Cheese for me is…any bread type with Am.= “yellow” cheese, sliced carrots and mayo and sometimes crisp bacon. Yummmm yum so good on a cool Saturday afternoon after working out doors!

    by Dorry on Apr 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm

  6. I saw a TV chef who proved, “any kind of bread with any kind of cheese and any kind of jelly or jam,” is always delicious! I tried it and it’s true, I haven’t been able to disprove it yet.

    by Aberjoe on Apr 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm

  7. You say: “Does the idea of a perfect plate of sliced sweet pickles, string cheese, rye crackers, and an old movie seem like the best vacation ever?”

    I like it, only thing you left out was that nice glass of red wine to go with… :)

    by Ali on Apr 11, 2012 at 11:52 am

  8. Okay, there’s a problem here, right at the top of the article– American Cheese is not patriotic. How can I read further?

    Foodstuffs may be indigenous, but not patriotic, and even if they could be, processed cheese would not be on the list. It’s an unwarranted cuteness of phrase that is also disrespectful to the idea of patriotism. Do not use such ridiculous expressions again, please.

    by Exploding Mary on Apr 11, 2012 at 11:51 am

  9. Our local premier restaurant, the Lightfoot has a GCOTD (Grilled Cheese of the Day) special every day. I frequent them often!

    by Kathy on Apr 11, 2012 at 10:55 am

  10. I concocted a grilled cheese sandwich I call “Grilled Cheese Gone Wild…Kim’s Style.”
    EVERYONE around here loves it. Any type of cheese..any type of bread..sliced tomatoes..
    onion slices ( I prefer sweet onion)..bacon bits (real kind) and Miracle Whip. It is really

    by Kim on Apr 11, 2012 at 10:42 am

  11. Gruyere or Jarlsberg with thinly sliced crisp apple

    by SueD on Apr 11, 2012 at 10:34 am

  12. I love putting tomato, green pepper and onion between two pieces of cheese and grilling on whatever bread I have.

    by ARodrigue on Apr 11, 2012 at 9:19 am

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