The grilled cheese sandwich has become an American staple, but have you ever wondered just where it came from, or how exaclty it got it’s start?
The grilled cheese sandwich is generally pretty basic with one or a few types of cheese melted between some flat bread on a grill, although sometimes it includes a spread like mayo or butter. It’s the grilling process of course that sets the sandwich apart from a regular cheese sandwich, and the heat is the necessary element to melt the cheese and gift it that warm crispy taste. A frying pan or griddle is all that is needed to grill the sandwich, and often a bit of butter is used to quicken the process.
In the UK there is a slightly different version of a cooked cheese sandwich, where the bread and cheese are baked in an oven or grilled in a different manner. This is generally made with cheddar cheese, and one popular spinoff to the sandwich is the cheese and pickle sandwich, which is pretty much what it sounds like.
In the U.S. the grilled cheese sandwich is often served as a meal in and of itself, or paired with tomato soup as a popular option.
As for the origin of the sandwich, cooked bread and cheese dates back to ancient times. But the modern incarnation of the grilled cheese seemed to come about in the 1920’s when bread and cheese became easy to come by again after the Great Depression. During World War II the Navy cooked have been cited as grilling “American cheese filling sandwiches.”
In addition to all of the cooking appliances that can be used to make a grilled cheese sandwich around the world, it’s also possible to use a clothes iron to cook one as well. This has been demonstrated on TV shows and supposedly a decent option for the hotel room dweller who doesn’t have access to a hot kitchen.
One twist on the traditional grilled cheese sandwich is a technique that is referred to as the inside out grilled cheese, where an extra layer of cheese is placed on the outside of the bread and then grilled which creates a caramelized, crispy outer layer and some extra deliciousness.
Most people consider a grilled cheese sandwich to be properly cooked when the crust is toasted to a golden brown and the cheese inside is melted in the middle.
Cooking times and heat can vary depending on the ingredients and cooking method, but when butter is used in the pan medium heat is best to avoid any burning of the butter. There needs to be sufficient cook time to make sure that the sandwich is cooked evenly.