Most everyone knows how to make a grilled cheese sandwich, but some are tempted to tamper with perfection. Ruth Reichl, former NYT food editor, is one of those. She admits to an obsession with the old standby, that we all go to for a quick and satisfying meal.
Picking the Perfect Cheese
While most people just slap American cheese, or Velvetta, between two slices of Wonder bread, Reichl starts with the best of Cheddars. For her, that’s Montgomery, which I’ve never seen around these parts. But Trader Joe’s brand gets kudos on line as does Tillamook, Cabot’s and Boar’s Head.
The unique thing about this sandwich, besides the snazzy cheese inside and out, is the inclusion of a handful of finely chopped onions—shallots, leeks, scallions, onions of any color, whatever you have on hand, and a bit of garlic. Ohh, baby!
Side Note: Next time I’ll follow the advice of several on line and sauté those onions a bit before mixing them with the cheese, even though Reichle declares there’s no need if they’re chopped fine enough. Look here for a 45-second You Tube feature of the so-called Diva of Grilled Cheese, showing how simple this sandwich is to make.
Grilled Cheese a là Ruth Reichle
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ lb. cheddar cheese, divided
- Onions (mixture of shallots, leeks, scallions, any colored onion)
- 2 slices thickly sliced, sturdy sourdough bread
- Grate that expensive cheddar, reserving a portion of cheese to go on the outside of the sandwich. What the . . . you say? Stick with me here. . . . Chop the onion assortment finely into a small heap. Add a minced clove of garlic. Grate a few generous handfuls of the best cheddar you can afford. Set a little aside, and gently combine the rest with the onion mixture.
- Butter one side of thickly sliced bread and heap as much of the mixture as possible between the slices (butter facing in). Spread a thin layer of mayo on the outside of the bread (this will keep it from scorching on the griddle much better than butter).
- Press the reserved grated cheese to the outside of the bread, where it will create a wonderfully crisp and shaggy crust. For less mess, apply the mayo and cheese first on one side only, lay that side on the griddle, then quickly do the remaining top side while the bottom is sizzling.
- Fry on a heated nonstick griddle, or in a nonstick skillet, about 4 minutes a side, until the cheese is melted.