For me, today ranks right up there with my birthday and Christmas and is definitely a day to be celebrated – it’s National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day!
Who looked at bread and cheese and thought, “I’ll put the cheese between the bread and heat it in a pan until the bread’s toasty and the cheese is melted and ooey, gooey delicious?”
This is an individual to be celebrated! At the very least, their picture should appear on a postage stamp, or a day should be named after them!
Alas, no one is sure exactly whom that individual is.
According to food historians, cooked bread and cheese is an ancient food, enjoyed across the world in many cultures. The United States modern version of the grilled cheese sandwich originated in the 1920s when inexpensive sliced bread and American cheese became easily available. Originally it was made as an open-faced sandwich.
United States government cookbooks describe Navy cooks broiling “American cheese filling sandwiches” during World War II.
Research was unable to find the creator of National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day.
This just means we can concentrate more on celebrating the sandwich!
There is an art to making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich.
Don’t choose a hard cheese. They’re usually aged longer and require higher temps to melt… which equates to burned bread! I like to mix Gouda, Havarti, and a soft, sharp cheddar.
Bread is key to the ultimate grilled cheese. Fresh bread works, day-old bread is better! The bread needs to hold up during cooking time and hold in all the wonderful, melty, cheesy goodness. Bread that is too fresh has a tendency to get mushy. Ew. Rye and pumpernickel always work for me, but sourdough is my favorite.
A light spread of butter on the outside of the bread enhances the browning effect and adds a nice crunch with a great buttery flavor. Coconut oil or truffle oil can be substituted for the butter, and also add amazing flavor!
Don’t be afraid to add fillings to your grilled cheese! Meat generally comes to mind first, but I was adding fruit and veggies to my grilled cheese long before Foodnetwork and being a foodie were the rage. (Much to the horror of my siblings!)
You also no longer have to miss you out on the grilled cheese experience if you follow a diiferent diet. Most retailers stock vegan breads and imitation cheeses, or you can make your own. My mister is a renal patient and cheese is a no-no for him. However, I can whip up a decent substitute in minutes using cashews and seasonings!
Mushrooms are my favorite grilled cheese filling, and when I came across Kevin Lynch and his Closet Cooking, I found the perfect sandwich for me! It’s also the one sandwich I don’t have to share since the mister and his minions do not like mushrooms! #WIN!
Oh, my! This sandwich is amazing on so many levels, and you do not need to be a vegetarian to enjoy its awesomeness! Make it exactly according to the recipe just once, and you’ll be hooked!
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
- 1/4 cup white wine or broth
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon truffle oil (optional)
- 1 cup fontina or gruyere, shredded
- 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
- 4 slices bread
- 2 tablespoon butter
- Melt the butter and heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
- Add the cremini mushrooms and saute until the start to caramelized and turn golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add the wine, deglaze the pan and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2-3 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley and remove from heat and let cool a bit.
- Mix the cheese into the mushrooms.
- Butter one side of each slice of bread and place 2 in the pan buttered side down.
- Top each with 1/2 of the mushroom mixture and finally the remaining slices of bread with the buttered side up.
- Grill until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown, about 2-4 minutes per side.
Celebrate the grilled cheese sandwich today or any day you need some good old comfort food!
Images from Google and Closet Cooking.
It’s also National Licorice Day, but I hate licorice… so, whatever.