An Ode To The Grilled Cheese

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Day,  FLAN pays tribute to this melty classic.

The grilled cheese-- A simple American staple whose simplicity has satiated senses around the globe for decades. Found in diners, lunchrooms, and even Michelin star restaurants--the grilled cheese is an everyday staple in our food culture. It’s omnipresence is so undeniable, that some people are convinced that Jesus Christ himself has returned in the form of, yes, a grilled cheese sandwich. While not all are convinced that the grilled cheese is the second coming of christ, there is something universally heavenly about that crispy buttery gooey bite done right--and that’s not even to mention it’s rich and savory sidekick: tomato soup. It’s a sandwich, that even in the most dire instances of fridge barrenness, comes through clutch--only requiring two basic ingredients: bread and cheese. In fact, the clutch aspect of the sandwich itself is in it’s very DNA.  

With only $65, in 1915 James Kraft began selling bulk cheese to local grocers around Chicago. Kraft’s cheese business took off so much, that by the time World War 1 hit, the United States government was bulk ordering millions of pounds of cheese that could be made into sandwiches for the army. Early news reports from the time cite the combination of vitamins stemming from the cheese and carbohydrates from the bread made for ideal and economic way to sustain soldiers during wartime. Even after the war, the grilled cheese became a popular way to feed the fam during the Great Depression. 

Long story short, the grilled cheese has been there for us in good times and bad. It’s a sandwich that was truly made to be enjoyed by everyone, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, (however, maybe not vegans.) Today, we salute this timeless and reliable sandwich by presenting you with the four ways to elevate your grilled cheese game at home. 

1. Tomato Soup

You are actually playing yourself if you don’t have a side of tomato soup to dunk your grilled cheese in. Not having a side of tomato soup with the grilled cheese is like not having french fries with your burger.  If you already have tomato soup with your grilled cheese, trust and top it off with some basil and a touch of cream. 

2.   Change Up the Cheese

This is where things get interesting. Most of your “Friendly’s Diner” type grilled cheese use the processed cheddar which personally, is suspect to say the least. I mean seriously, cheese isn’t supposed to come in small square packaging. I get it, the singles are good if you’re a mom trying to feed kids before soccer practice, but my guess is that if you’re even still reading this--it’s because you want more out of life. Some melted brie or gruyere cheese on a toasted baguette might very well be the genesis to that trip to Paris you always wanted to take.  

3.   Get That Bread

White bread is boring. You know what’s not? Sourdough and/or Ciabatta. Hell, maybe if you’re feeling frisky try it on an english muffin. The grilled cheese on the right here uses focaccia bread which is an interesting idea.   The theme here is to use breads that have nice  nooks and crannies which allow  butter to soak into the bread and thus,  toasting it to perfection. 

4.  It's More Than Just Cheese

Who said your grilled cheese has to be just bread butter and cheese? Don't let us stop you. This is an American classic, after all. In the spirit of America--you should feel free to put anything inside your grilled cheese you want. Just don’t put anything overly sweet inside, unless you are going for a dessert grilled cheese, in which case you want to use ricotta cheese.  

In that same spirit, here's a link to a free old cookbook that   has countless ideas and recipes for  different ingredients that you can incorporate into the grilled cheese:

Great Grilled Cheese: 50 innovative recipes for stovetop, grill, and sandwich maker

So go nuts, try out that crazy grilled recipe you've been eyeing! After all, it's National Grilled Cheese day. 

Be sure to send along your creations to @FLAN and we'll give you a shoutout :).