grilled cheese is easily one of my favorite weekend lunches. i try to always keep some good crusty bread in the freezer (presliced) and some cheese that melts nicely so that i can quickly throw together a sandwich based on whatever i have on hand.
when i was in college, grilled cheeses were one of my go to lunch items because the cafeteria had them everyday, they never ran out of them, and they were pretty good, in a terrible/greasy/diner food kind of way. cheap white bread, cheap american cheese, and an unholy amount of fat spread on the outsides of the bread. thank goodness the cafeteria didn’t post nutritional information…
these days, i like to experiment with a variety of cheeses and other fillings, often picking a “theme” for my grilled cheese based on what’s in season. to wit, this grilled cheese started with apples, which quickly led to cheddar, munster, and cranberries. the cranberry idea actually came from a brie and turkey sandwich i had recently that was served on cranberry bread (the hearty sandwich kind of bread, not the dessert cakey kind of bread) so if you can get your hands on some hearty cranberry bread, feel free to swap that into this grilled cheese. you could also use cranberry relish, if you happen to have that on hand (aka, you’ve stumbled across this post on the day after thanksgiving). finally, red onion, arugula, and mustard prevent you from wondering if your toaster handed you an iced apple pop tart sugar bomb instead of a grilled cheese with apple.
as far as ingredient ratios go, take this recipe as a guide but mostly, do what you like. whenever i’m making grilled for my husband and myself, i always put more cheese in his sandwich because he likes his cheesier than i do. similarly, i put more onions in mine. you know what you like, so feel free to adjust as you go. it’s pretty hard to go wrong when you’re starting with crusty bread and good cheese.
- 4 slices of hearty whole wheat bread
- 1 oz. (29 g.) cheddar cheese, very thinly sliced or coarsely grated (i like my cheddar extra sharp!)
- 2/3 of a tart apple such as granny smith, sliced
- 1.5 oz. (39 g.) muenster cheese, very thinly sliced or coarsely grated
- 3/8 oz. (12 g. / 2 tablespoons) dried cranberries
- 1 thin slice (½ oz. / 4 g.) red onion
- 1 small handful of arugula
- 4 teaspoons mustard (dijon, coarse grain, or honey would all work well)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- preheat a large skillet (preferably one with a lid that fits reasonably well) to just below medium heat or a panini press according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- brush one side of two of the slices of bread with the oil and set down on a large plate oil side down. spread mustard on the side that is face up.
- distribute cheddar among the two slices of bread on top of the mustard. add the apple, onion, cranberries, and arugula. top with muenster cheese.
- place the remaining two slices of bread on each sandwich and oil the tops of the bread slices.
- panini press place the sandwiches in the machine and follow manufacturer’s recommended cooking time (likely 5 – 7 minutes).
- skillet place the two sandwiches on the skillet and cover with a lid. after 3 – 4 minutes, peek at the bottom of the grilled cheese to make sure the bread isn’t getting too dark before your cheese has a chance to melt (that’s where the just below medium heat and lid come in). if it’s getting too dark, turn down the heat a bit. once you flip the sandwich over, leave the lid off so that your crispy top doesn’t get soggy. cook for another 3 – 4 minutes until the cheese is melted and the bottom bread is nicely toasted.
- cut each grilled cheese in half and enjoy immediately.
this grilled cheese recipe contains a link to the panini press that i have and LOVE, the cuisinart griddler. seriously, i love that thing. i have never – not once – made a bad sandwich with it. even the sandwiches that turned out to be really bad combinations of ingredients were at least perfectly cooked. and i know we’re not talking about waffles right now, but if we were, i’d go on and on about how awesome the removable waffle plates are. for those of you who love waffles but truly just CANNOT endure cleaning a waffle iron, these are your jam. but since we’re not talking about waffles right now, i’ll just say that every grilled cheese i’ve made in the griddler has been delicious and perfectly cooked – melty cheese and toasty but not burned bread.
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