The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

I realize some people will think this is heresy, but the best grilled cheese sandwiches are made with Velveeta.  Yes, I know.  Not real cheese.  Get over it.  It makes a creamy, melty, cheesy, drippy, greasy mouth of complete goodness.  Complete.  Perfect.  The whole is more than the sum of its parts.  I’m talking about grilled cheese perfection.

A Velveeta grilled cheese requires Nature’s Own Whole Wheat Bread – yeah, the cheap sandwich stuff and tons of real butter.  Slathered sweeps of it across the bread and a goodly amount in a hot cast iron pan. 

If the pan is at the right temperature, the sandwich has a light crust that crunches when you bite into it releasing the ooey, gooey melty magnificent faux cheese.  I’m telling you.  It’s all about proportions. 

I had a cheese slicer which I used to make grilled cheese from the original rectangular block.  Two slices.  One is to fill up the top left side of the bread, the second cut in half so that there is a strip down the right side and another across the bottom of the bread.  Perfection.

The cheese slicer broke after a mere 40 years of use.  I was incensed.  I can’t find one that cuts to the right thickness.  I realize they’re adjustable, but evidently, I’m challenged.  I can’t get it right.  So.  I’ve taken to buying the extra-thick Velveeta slices.  I do have to admit, it’s more convenient if an environmental disaster.  However, the proportion of cheese to bread is just slightly off.  One slice is not enough.  Two is a tad too much.   I always go for too much, with a grilled cheese, with everything in life.  And is my favorite word.  I am a maximalist, not a minimalist. 

Real butter, people.  Real.  Lightly salted.  Real.  Not margarine, not a blend, and heavens not mayonnaise.  My son, the chef, also known as Chef Boy ‘R Mine swears by mayonnaise instead of butter.  He’s a fabulous cook.  He is.  And he agrees with me about the Velveeta, but he’s wrong about the mayonnaise thing.  Oh, sure, it makes a pretty sandwich.  But the flavor is wrong as is the surface texture.  Wrong, I tell you.

The cast iron is critical.  A Teflon pan will not give you that slightly crispy crust that makes a good grilled cheese.  Stainless steel will stick and won’t heat evenly.  Cast iron.  Sometimes I use the small round flat grill that was designed for tortillas and other times I use the ancient Le Creuset pan. 

Six minutes on the first side, two to the three on the other.  I always made two sandwiches.  The second one requires less time.  The pan is hotter. 

I gained 40 lbs. on grilled cheese in the first year of the pandemic.  Really.  40 lbs.  I had to give them up.  I will do many things for a good grilled cheese sandwich, but 40 lbs. in a few months is rather extreme.  I can’t afford new clothes. 

I’ve gone cold turkey.  I haven’t had grilled cheese in a good long while.  The extra weight is coming off.  Slowly, but the scale is moving.  However, I’ve just talked myself into a grilled cheese. 

There’s one in my near future.  Well, actually two.  I am into excess.

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