It’s probably the cheesiest holiday, but what’s more celebration-worthy than cheese? April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Day!
At its most classic, a grilled cheese sandwich is cheese melted between bread toasted in butter. It’s a go-to solution for parents trying to feed a picky eater, and it’s comfort food for adults in need of a culinary hug.
Although it seems like one of the most American of food creations, it’s actually an ancient meal. Ancient Roman texts reference the practice of melting cheese between pieces of bread. The French have been selling croque-monsieurs (grilled ham and cheese) in cafes since the early 1900s.
The grilled cheese sandwich, in its most pop culturally significan manifestation, is a result of Kraft introducing processed cheese followed by the invention of uniformly sliced white bread in the 1920s.
According to The Food Timeline, the first time the words “grilled cheese” appeared together in a cookbook was in the 1960s. Before that time, people called them toasted cheese or melted cheese sandwiches.
Modern foodie culture brings us all kinds of wonderful, grown-up grilled cheese recipies that graduate the simple snack from just bread, cheese, and butter into options that are much more sophisticated. Here’s a recipe for a grilled blue cheese and pear sandwich, and here’s one by butter lover Paula Deen for a Grilled Apple, Bacon, and Cheddar Sandwich. There’s even a Grilled Cheese Food Truck.
I’m more of a purest. I believe you can use any bread you want, any cheese you want, and any fat you want, but if you add other ingredients, it’s no longer a grilled cheese sandwich.
My favorite is simple. I start with two slices of sourdough bread, extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, crumbled blue cheese, and Trader Joe’s Mayonnaise. I use mayo as an alternative to butter because it has a hint of citrus, and the egg in the mayo creates a crusty seal to keep molten cheese from leaking through the nooks and crannies of the bread.
Spread mayo (real mayo… not Miracle Whip) on the outside of the sandwich, sprinkle grated cheddar and blue cheese on one slice, and then fry it up like any other grilled cheese sandwich.
Do you have a favorite way to make a grilled cheese sandwich? Should it be smashed or un-smashed when cooking? I want to know your tips. Please leave a comment down below, and have a happy Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day!