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Battle of the Best: Grilled Cheese

What makes a grilled cheese sandwich not just good, but great? Shandle, Christy, and MJ discuss what makes the best and worst grilled cheese and share three recipes for you to try.

Basic Grilled Cheese_
Photo credit: Christy King

It started simply enough. MJ shared a photo of her lunch, a buffalo grilled cheese. This one picture started a lengthy, passionate conversation about what makes a great grilled cheese. Pros and cons were discussed. Points were made and debated. Tummies rumbled. And then . . . there was delicious, toasty resolution. We happily present to you the tasty results of this epic Battle Of The Best: Grilled Cheese.

Bread

This is the base of your grilled cheese. It takes a good thick bread to make a great grilled sandwich. This is how you get your crispy edge and your soft middle. Our favorites are: sourdough, rye, pumpernickel, and hearty white – Brownberry, specifically.

Christy: “The problem with most white bread brands like Holsum or Wonder is they can’t hold up to the butter.”

All great things must be built on a strong foundation. May your bread be worthy.

Cheese

This is the melty, creamy heart of your creation. Imitation cheese just won’t do. You don’t want a gooey mess. You want to walk the line between sloppy and savory.

We decided that your choice in cheese can vary depending on the type of grilled cheese sandwich. Our favorites: cheddar, swiss, and mozzarella.

Butter

This is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end of your delicious sandwich. Butter is really the glue that holds it all together, and in our humble opinion, only the real stuff will cut it. Use real butter, salted (naturally). Soften it on the counter or even in the microwave, but be careful not to melt it too much.

Shandle: “I don’t really keep real butter in the house.” *Christy and MJ both promptly faint*

Best cooking surfaces

You may think any old skillet can make a great grilled cheese, but there are a few real winners. We prefer a cast iron skillet or a griddle. Both of these provide an even, golden brown crust.

Recipes

Buffalo Grilled Cheese

Sourdough bread
Mozzarella or swiss cheese
Breaded chicken strips (at least 3)
Buffalo wing sauce (your own if you have time to make it, bottled if you don’t)
Butter

Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese
Photo credit: MJ

Preheat your griddle to 350 degrees. Butter two slices of sourdough bread and set aside. You can cook your chicken a few ways, but my preferred method is to quick-fry them in canola oil – this helps keep the meal under 30 minutes of prep time. While you fry up your chicken for 3-5 minutes, pour your wing sauce into a large mixing bowl.

When your chicken is done pull it and set it on a paper towel. Take two spoonfuls of the hot oil and pour into the bowl of wing sauce. Whisk that up real quick, and toss in your chicken, coating it fully. Lay the coated chicken strips on a cutting board. You want to cut it in slices – small enough for bite size, but not too small.

Take one of your buttered bread slices and place it butter side down on your griddle. Lay two pieces of cheese on the bread. Layer the chicken on top of the cheese. Add two more slices of cheese and your other piece of bread.

Let it heat on the first side until golden brown – usually less than five minutes. Flip it and repeat! When you pull from your griddle set it on a cooling rack for at least two minutes before you plate. This ensures it won’t be soggy, and it will stay warm.

BBQ Grilled Cheese

Sourdough or homestyle white bread
Cheddar cheese
Pulled BBQ chicken – premade
Butter

BBQ Chicken Grilled Cheese
Photo credit: MJ

Preheat your griddle to 350 degrees. Butter two slices of bread and set aside. In a small skillet, heat up your pulled BBQ chicken. It takes about 4-5 minutes.

When your chicken is done, set it aside. Take one of your buttered slices and place it butter side down on your griddle. Place two slices of cheese on bread. Spoon pulled BBQ chicken (enough to cover the entire slice) on top of that. Add two more slices of cheese and your other piece of bread.

Let it heat on the first side until golden brown – usually less than 5 minutes. Flip it and repeat! When you pull it from your griddle, remember to set it on a cooling rack for at least 2 minutes before you plate. Don’t skip this step! Let it sit and cool BEFORE cutting into it, or you will be left with a huge BBQ saucey mess.

Original Grilled Cheese

Sourdough or homestyle white bread
Cheddar cheese or American cheese
Butter

Basic Grilled Cheese
Photo credit: Christy King

Preheat your griddle to 350 degrees. Butter two slices of bread and set aside. Lay the first buttered slice of bread on the griddle and add two slices of cheese on top. Once the cheese has melted down a bit, add your second slice of bread. Cook until golden brown on one side. Flip and repeat! Once your grilled cheese is golden brown, place on a drying rack/paper towel for at least 2 minutes. Enjoy!

How do you like to eat your grilled cheese? Post a pic on Instagram and tag us in it with the hashtag #BattleOfTheBest. Also, let us know what battle you’d like to see next!

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