Thursday, September 2, 2010

Don't Be A Victim Of BGCS!!!

Have you ever had a grilled cheese you didn’t like? If you answered yes to that question, sadly you are not alone. I too am one of the poor souls whom have suffered a bad grilled cheese experience. The next question to ask is why was it bad? Was it burnt, soggy, cold or all of the above? If you also answered yes to any of these, then you my friend have been a victim of Bad Grilled Cheese Syndrome (BGCS).
BGCS is not pleasant to endure. It leaves those who’ve survived the grueling experience, bitter towards grilled cheese. They are afraid to touch another sandwich in fear that it too will be bad. Well, I am here to tell all those whom have suffered that they have to suffer no more. I can help you learn to protect yourself from ever being a victim again. Below I have listed several simple steps that will help you not only keep from going through BGCS again, but hopefully I can also help you rebuild the love that you once had for grilled cheese. Soon you will be able to create new wonderful and memorable grilled cheese experiences. Just remember you are not alone. With just a little time and practice you too can soon be a master in the art of grilled cheese making, and remember, you too can help prevent BGCS.

1. Use a good quality, small to medium sized fry pan. My preference is enamel coated cast iron, but any heavy pan will work.

2. Have fresh butter or olive oil on hand – Myth: you do not have to put the butter directly on the slices of bread. It is easy to be heavy handed when buttering bread and thus adding extra calories. I prefer to add a thin slice of butter to the pan and then rubbing the bread around in it to evenly coat. You will do this on each side.

3. Pre-heat your pan thoroughly before using - about med to med-low heat is perfect. This is where burnt sandwiches happen – depending on the pan you use, the longer you keep it on the burner, the hotter it will get (as some pans retain heat too well) If you notice the butter quickly browning after you add it to the pan, then you will need to turn down the heat a little. This is the most common cause for burnt sandwiches.

4. Use good quality, fresh bread (it doesn’t have to be bakery fresh, just not stale).

5. Use thinly sliced cheese for easy melting. This is the second biggest reason sandwiches are burnt. People tend to leave the sandwich cooking until the cheese melts, only this usually ends in overcooked bread. Pre-sliced cheese works great because it is all uniform in size which allows for even melting. Most deli’s have a good variety of pre-sliced cheese, or you can have a deli clerk slice up the cheese of your choice.

6. Have a lid standing by to retain the heat for evenly melting cheese. You will not want to keep the lid on for too long as the condensation can make the bread moist, but if you notice your cheese is not melting after the first side has already browned, you can add the lid to help trap in heat. Just a minute or two does wonders.

Now you might have your own methods as well. However, these steps have yet to fail me so I encourage you to try them as well.

Once you have started mastering your own techniques for delicious grilled cheese, it is time to get a little creative. One of the reasons this is a favorite sandwich of mine, other than the contrast of salty, buttery, crispy bread and gooey melted cheese, is its versatility. You can use any combination of bread, cheese and anything else you desire to put inside it, and if it is cooked right, it usually tastes delicious. Then all you have to do is pair it with your favorite soup and you will have the perfect culinary match.

(grilled cheese with smoked mozzarella, havarti and gruyere cheese with tomatoes)

Some of my favorite cheeses to use are Havarti, sharp cheddar, Colby jack, pepper jack and provolone, to name several… Whatever you use, remember to have fun and only use the best ingredients. Happy cooking!
Rachel :)

Editors Note:
BGCS is not a real syndrome, it is strictly fictional and was creative merely for comedic purposes. Are you laughing yet?


Jen said...

I can't believe it never occurred to me to put something other than just cheese in my grilled cheese sandwiches!!!

Jeremy Starck said...

Fun stuff Rachel! One of my favorites is a SouthWest type grilled cheese. I pan sear an assortment of peppers, usually a couple sweet or bell peppers and jalepeno or anahiems, with onion and melt it between a nice sharp cheddar. The savory flavor of the sharp cheddar balances well with the sweetness of the onions and bell peppers and the hot peppers add a little extra flavor and kick!

Adam said...

Cast-iron makes every thing taste better.My cast-iron frying pan is my favorite. Great tips, I like the one about the butter. There is nothing worse than a greasy toasted cheese sandwich.

Rachel Blair said...

I know right Jen :D
Ooh, that sounds amazing Jeremy! I love anahiem chili's they are my new favorite!! Sharp cheddar is also one of my foavite cheese. I could just eat it by the block!

I totally agree Adam! I got a few cast iron pots and pans for this last christmas and at first I was'nt too sure, not I only want to use them. I agree about the greasy sandwhich, no thankyou ;p