Grilled cheese. One of the cheapest and easiest meals you can make. Perfectly paired with a multitude of munchies. The matchless melted marriage of my two favorite foods. A bit of nostalgia in every gooey bite. It’s no wonder we have an entire month to celebrate this fantastic food.
Yes, that’s right: April is Grilled Cheese Month, and I’ve been remiss in giving you ideas for how to celebrate, so for that, I’m sorry. (I’d really like to blame my computer and its inability to stay on for more than 10 consecutive minutes, but it’s been cooperating today so far, and I don’t want to jinx things. [Hopefully it's not reading this.])
I found my own way to celebrate last weekend with a delightful lunch at The Pop Shop in Collingswood, N.J., a place known for its crazy grilled cheeses; their Calvert grilled cheese — roast turkey, avocado, applewood smoked bacon, Monterey jack cheese and balsamic mayo on rosemary foccacia — was featured on Food Network’s “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” in 2008.
The restaurant’s observance of NGCM includes a different special sandwich each day, and on my visit, I was sold: lobster, brie and garlic aioli on country white bread. Sloppy and absolutely delicious. I wish I could eat there every day. (My apologies for the photo omission. I lost all awareness once that glorious thing was set down in front of me.)
I like to get a little crazy with my grilled cheeses at home. I’ve done tomato, bacon, shrimp, chocolate, avocado, horseradish, Doritos… (not all on one sandwich, but now that you mention it…). Two of my favorites, though, are pretty standard grilled cheeses with easy twists. Whether you like experimenting, or you’re a grilled cheese purist, give ‘em a try.
Honeyed classic – makes one sandwich
♦Two slices of bread (white, wheat — your choice)
♦Three slices of medium-cut American cheese (I prefer Land O’ Lakes)
♦1 tbs. honey
♦Little bit of butter
Heat pan over medium heat. Construct cheese sandwich, and spread a small amount of butter on the outside of both sides. Cook sandwich evenly, about five minutes on each side. When bread is just about to reach desired color, spread 1/2 tablespoon of honey on one side and flip. Repeat. The honey will caramelize the bread, giving you a great sweetness to go with the salty sandwich. For variety, add tomato, avocado or other favorites inside.
Crunchy grilled cheese – makes one sandwich
♦Two slices of bread
♦Three slices of medium-cut American cheese
♦1 egg OR 1 tbs. honey
♦1/2 c. corn flakes, finely crushed
♦Little bit of butter
Heat pan over medium heat. Construct cheese sandwich. Using egg: whisk one egg in small bowl, and brush both sides. (I didn’t want to waste my last egg on this, so…) Using honey: Spread 1/2 tablespoon of honey on each side of sandwich. Dip wet sides into crushed cornflakes, and coat well. Drop on pad of butter and let it coat surface. Cook one side, add pad of butter between flip and cook other side evenly. The crushed cornflakes add an incredible texture to your classic sandwich.