The 2014 Jon Favreau film, Chef, has epitomised what a perfect grilled cheese sandwich should look like. Two slices of bread slathered generously with butter and thrown on medium-heated pan till it roasts to a crispy brown. While the bread sizzles over heat, thin slices of cheese (we counted at least four different ones) slowly melt to become a decadent gooey mess squished between the breads. Five years later, Favreau converts his love for food into a Netflix show, The Chef Show, inspired by the foods that rocked the food truck in the film. In the Netflix show, Favreau and American chef Roy Choi reprise the perfect grilled cheese sandwich sharing the nitty-gritty of the sandwich.
The alchemy of heat brings together one of the most simple yet decadent meals. The grilled cheese sandwich is considered as the ultimate comfort food by many and easy to tweak and experiment with. “It always leaves you full and happy. It is also something that is made all over the world across cuisines, countries and cultures,” says Annie Bafna, Founder & Director of Mumbai’s The Nutcracker cafe.
So if you’re running out of ideas about what to munch on as you bingewatch the TV show de rigueur, get cracking on a grilled cheese sandwich with some expert advice.
Components of a
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
The breadis the foundation on which depends the success of a good sandwich. “Simple white bread can be used to make this sandwich but it should be sturdy enough to hold the cheese without breaking out,” explains Chef Ranjan Rajani, Executive Chef, Hotel Sahara Star Mumbai. A good sourdough bread is generally the preferred choice for chefs and grilled cheese aficionados.
The cheese should not only add flavour but also have the
ability to melt, which will give you the true satisfaction. Commercial
processed cheese is great for the melt but you may find it lacking in flavour. For
Bafna, “A mix of cheeses versus only one type is super important.” She suggests
a sharp flavoured cheese such as sharp red cheddar, one medium flavoured cheese
such as a Monterey Jack or young Edam. Most important is a cheese that melts
well such as mozerella: “It gives you the perfect stretchy melt-in-your-mouth
cheese filling.” Gruyere and goat’s cheese are also good cheeses.
Don’t skimp on the butter. “For golden brown crispness and the
cheese bursting from the seams you have to be generous!” explains Bafna. If you
were wondering which side to butter the bread—it’s both sides.
A medium heat is
the only way to get the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Chef Rajani makes it
clear, “Making a grilled cheese sandwich is a child’s play, making a great one
takes effort. The grill should be
hot enough to brown the bread on all sides.” Also as Choi and Favreau
explain to their guest on The Chef Show, American stand-up comic Bill Burr, medium heat and slow cooking ensure that both the bread crisps up and the
cheese melts all the way through. Patience is the key!
Now that you have your basic technique sorted how about you take grilled cheese sandwich to the next level? You can add some extra fillings along with the cheese. Slices of ham and salami are easy choices. Chef Rajani suggests veggies or boiled chicken where as Bafna prefers sweet chilli jam, caramelised onions, grilled and charred jalapeños and even kimchi!
Here are Grilled Cheese Sandwich recipes by The Nutcracker’s Annie Bafna and Chef Ranjan Rajani that you can try at home.
Grilled Sandwich recipe
2 slices bread
100 gms cheese mix
30 gms butter
2 charred jalapenos chopped up
2 onions, cut into rings and caramelised
- Generously butter both slices of the bread on both sides.
- Load the cheese, caramelised onions and jalapenos and cover with other side.
- Put into a grill and press down till crisp and golden.
2 slices of multigrain bread (brown bread also ok)
2 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon of coriander pesto
1 pinch roasted cumin powder
1 pinch crushed roasted black pepper
1 small onion, cut into thin circles
1 small potato, boiled and sliced
1 small beetroot, boiled and sliced
½ capsicum, cut into rounds
75 gms processed cheese grated
Salt for seasoning
- Take the bread slices, apply the coriander pesto on one side of both breads.
- Put slice onion, potato, beetroot and capsicum.
- Sprinkle cumin powder, salt and crushed black pepper evenly.
- Spread the grated processed cheese evenly. Cover it with another slice.
- Apply soft butter on both the side of bread and place it under toaster or griller. Pre-heat the griller or toaster, apply some butter on the griller by using brush, if required. Toast or grill it the bread become crispy.
- Serve it hot with homemade green chutney.
What is your favourite grilled cheese sandwich variation? Share with us in the comments below.