The grilled cheese sandwich

Comfort foods, as I have come to realize, are not something that I do well. I’m not talking about the foods and dishes that I grew up as I do have sensory memory associations with those and make them when I want a nice welcoming meal. It’s more along the lines of making comfort foods that North American Caucasians tend to reach for, like macaroni and cheese, meat loaf, spaghetti and meatballs, fries, and mashed potato and gravy.

Case in point, and for your consideration, the grilled cheese sandwich.

It’s not like I haven’t had a grilled cheese sandwich before: my mom made them for me when I was a kid. Sometimes it was the “classic version of the sandwich (butter, white sandwich bread, Kraft Singles), and sometimes it was the variant that she had seen in a Colorado restaurant that had a slice of canned pineapple in the middle. I remember her at the stove grilling the sandwich for me in this cast-iron pan, and I’d always have two slices of Singles in my sandwich because well, my mom was making it for me and she knew I liked extra filling. I don’t remember whether or not I really liked them but that doesn’t matter as the relevant point to me is that it was something my mom made just for me.

Fast forward to present day and until a couple of minutes ago, I had never made one. Hmm… I should clarify: I don’t recall ever having made one. It’s not that these things are particularly complicated to necessitate a desperate “must hunt the Internet for the definitive recipe and technique” search (though there is a wiki entry for it): there’s bread, butter and Kraft Singles.

Okay, fine. ninguì n problema.

Wait… problema.

No white bread and one slice of Singles means no classic sandwich. So, a little bit of substitution using multigrain bread and mozzarella supplementing the Singles. Great, back on track – pop it into a nonstick pan with the induction hob on low.

Oops. Forgot that you have to push down on these things to seal the bread together. Diner kitchens place a weight on the sandwich or the short-order cook will press down on it with a spatula; I didn’t have the former and didn’t feel like doing the latter. Since I didn’t want the end product to resemble a floormat and really don’t enjoy cleaning cheese off a nonstick (they’re never as nonstick as manufacturers would insinuate), more improvisation with a small jar of salt on the spatula to add just a little weight while it gently browns.

By now, I’m realizing that either 1) I hadn’t fully thought the entire sandwich through, 2) I’m being prissy, 3) I forgot to have coffee, or 4) all of the above, but for something that’s supposed to be simple to execute…

It looks like it came out okay.

The grilled cheese sandwich

Grilled cheese sandwich with potato chips and sliced apples
(click to enlarge)


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