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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Today in Grilled Cheese

posted by on July 30 at 13:40 PM

From the weekly email update of McLeod Residence comes this bold assertion:

American cheese is the best for grilled cheese sandwiches and even if you are a food snob you cannot deny this.


(Of parenthetical note: Wikipedia says a grilled cheese is also sometimes called a toasted cheese, which is familiar [and maybe a West coast thing?], or a “cheese toastie,” which is sheer madness.)

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Raclette works wonders, too. And I think toasted cheese/cheese toastie may be a Britishism or something.

Posted by Ziggity | July 30, 2008 1:41 PM

My mom always called it a toasted cheese sandwich, but I'm not sure where it came from, since she lived in Wisconsin, California, and Kansas, and now back in Wisconsin. But her toasted cheese sandwiches were always the best and I still can't replicate them. Maybe it's just mental.

Posted by P to the J | July 30, 2008 1:42 PM

It's true, but not American cheese singles. It has to be from the Deli case, or else velveeta.

Posted by robo | July 30, 2008 1:42 PM

Well, I'll give them that. The American-made Private Reserve Aged White Cheddar from a certain cheese firm along the Oregon coast is my preference for a quality grilled cheese meal - although I prefer it on a good English Muffin with a slice of Organic Tomato underneath.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 30, 2008 1:45 PM

Tillamook Sharp Cheddar on sourdough is actually the correct answer. But one man's kitsch is another man's overhead reduction. Why not put it on Ovenjoy bread with margarine?

How much do they charge for an American cheese, grilled cheese sandwhich? It would be an amazing snack for $1.25.

Posted by Dougsf | July 30, 2008 1:45 PM

They're right... and Kraft singles work just dandy.

It's all about how fake cheese melts.

@4 who cares

Posted by they are | July 30, 2008 1:47 PM

Uh, no. Pepper jack.

I grew up with "grilled" cheese and "toasted" cheese, both of which are misnomers considering they were pan-fried in butter.

Posted by w7ngman | July 30, 2008 1:47 PM

The Dutch call them "toasties." In Holland you can get them with ham or an egg in addition to the (non-American but still delicious) melted cheese.

Posted by Amy Kate Horn | July 30, 2008 1:48 PM

w7ngman, how appetizing does panfried cheese sandwich sound?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 30, 2008 1:50 PM

I actually always thought "toasted cheese" was baked, not pan fried. My school lunch had these.

Posted by Dougsf | July 30, 2008 1:51 PM

American cheese may MELT the best, but it is blatantly inferior in taste and texture when consumed-- and really, would you rather have a delicious and slightly less melty grilled cheese or a very melty but undelicious gilled cheese?

I’m no food snob, but American cheese tastes like ass. And melted ass is still ass.

Posted by SDizzle | July 30, 2008 1:53 PM

My daughter, when she was 3, called them "girl cheese sandwiches."

Sharp cheddar is the only way to go.

Posted by Mike in Olympia | July 30, 2008 1:55 PM

In my family - and I was born in the town for which that "cheese firm along the Oregon coast" was named, so there - it was "grilled cheese" if the bread was buttered and placed on a flat griddle or frying pan to brown, with the cheese melted between the two slices; and "toasted cheese" if the bread was simply run through the toaster and the (unmelted cheese slapped between the slices.

Basically, the situational difference being that, if mom wasn't around to make you a "grilled cheese sandwich", and you weren't supposed to touch the stove (which generally applied to my younger brothers), then you had to make a "toasted cheese sandwich" all by yourself.

Posted by COMTE | July 30, 2008 1:56 PM

Cheddar. Just shred it rather than slicing, put a lid on the pan to melt the cheese, and only when it's melted do you place the other slice of bread on top and flip it to brown. I wouldn't equate American cheese to ass, but cheddar definitely makes a better grilled cheese.

Posted by DanFan | July 30, 2008 1:59 PM

It should also be noted that American cheese isn't actually cheese, it's vegetable oil, and the grilled cheese sandwich existed long before that horrible invention. I grew up on the stuff, and there's nothing "food snob" about avoiding American cheese.

I do actually kinda like the taste of Velveeta, but I've eaten enough for a lifetime I think.

Posted by Dougsf | July 30, 2008 2:00 PM

Speaking of Cheese, I tried BJC's Monogrammed Mac and Cheese... It was awesome and not at all difficult to make. I totally recommend it.

Grilled cheese is good with any cheese, and its best companion is a big bowl of roasted red pepper tomato soup.

Posted by Lobot | July 30, 2008 2:00 PM

This comments thread confirms that all of you come from inferior breeding.

The only sandwich worth feeding to those who carry your genes into the world is peanut butter and bacon on whole wheat toast.

And to the gentleman with the organic tomato: get help.

Posted by Ziggity | July 30, 2008 2:01 PM

Will, I'm Really Impressed With The Way You Managed To Capitalize organic tomato And english muffin there. Good Going. Shows Your German Roots.

Tillamook should have the right to call their cheese "Cheddar" revoked. It's not Cheddar. Cheddar is a place, just like Champagne. Good cheese (for an industrial product) but not Cheddar.

Posted by Fnarf | July 30, 2008 2:06 PM

In Canada, it's called "process cheese".

It's so bad, we won't even name it after the country we love to hate.

Posted by Big Adventure Steve | July 30, 2008 2:11 PM

I don't know if they actually exist anywhere or not, but I had the idea of starting up a grilled cheese stand along E Pike. Could probably charge $2-3 per sandwich and make a killing off the weekend drunks. Granted, I was drunk and making a grilled cheese sandwich at the time, but I make a baller grilled cheese and I thought it was a pretty good idea.

For the record, Tilamook sharp cheddar is the foundation of a great grilled cheese. I like mine a bit spicy, so I usually keep some Sriracha on hand for dipping.

Posted by T | July 30, 2008 2:11 PM

The irony here is anyone at McLeod residence calling anyone else a snob.
And my vote goes to sharp Wisconsin Cheddar. Even if the sandwich is fried up in oleo.

Posted by c | July 30, 2008 2:11 PM

@18 - If they had to call it "sparkling cheese", I'd still buy it.

Posted by Dougsf | July 30, 2008 2:15 PM

@21 - Holy crap, I haven't thought of Oleo since I was a kid. It's like the Anacin of butter-type stuffs.

Posted by Dougsf | July 30, 2008 2:18 PM

When I was a kid: american cheese, or Velveeta.

Now: Tillamook medium cheddar.

Posted by genevieve | July 30, 2008 2:20 PM

Muenster FTW!

Posted by Chris | July 30, 2008 2:20 PM

I was always fond of the cheese "zombies" they serve(d) in the school lunches.

Posted by harold | July 30, 2008 2:20 PM

Cheddar or pepper jack are the two correct answers. Slap a slice of ham on there for when you're feeling protein-deprived. If you want to get really fancy, sear the ham in the pan for a moment before you put it on the sandwich - adds that certain "je ne sais quois" to it.

@18, Will in Seattle has managed to become a parody of himself.

Posted by wrong | July 30, 2008 2:21 PM

@ 18, wikipedia sez there's only one cheese producer in Cheddar that makes cheddar cheese. A whole lot of people are going to have to revoke the name.

Sorry, but that is much more foodie snobbery than anything else in this post.

Posted by Matt from Denver | July 30, 2008 2:23 PM

Augh! Kraft singles=ick!

Posted by sara | July 30, 2008 2:25 PM

BA, these days I usually call them fried cheese sandwiches, which sounds awesome, mostly as a humorous reference to said misnomer.

Posted by w7ngman | July 30, 2008 2:26 PM

Brie. And use good quality olive oil instead of butter, and crusty bread, natch.

Posted by hillpagan | July 30, 2008 2:26 PM

I am ze grilled cheese expert, ask anyone.

I should really open a chain of grilled cheese restaurants.

As a long time standard-bearer of sharp cheddar (Tillamook) as the molten grilled cheese middle of choice, in addition to various other snobby cheeses, I have also recently seen the light and agree whole heartedly that Velveeta cheese product creates the most pleasing bubbly cheese-like grilled cheese center, with no oily separation. Sad but true.

Posted by jackie treehorn | July 30, 2008 2:28 PM

yes! i thought only people from my little county in Indiana called them "cheese toasties." it's not madness - it's just being correct!

Posted by Velveeta | July 30, 2008 2:29 PM

T@ 20, please set up your stand on E. Pike, as I am already in line.

When I was a kid, the only proper grilling cheese was pepper jack (when we were flush) or commodity cheese (when we weren't).

Posted by Lucky | July 30, 2008 2:32 PM

interesting. i just made grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch.

sharp cheddar on sourdough with sliced tomatoes - yum!

I just can't do the american cheese thing. it's not cheese and it makes grilled cheese sandwiches taste like melted plastic on toast

Posted by judy haley (coffeejitters) | July 30, 2008 2:35 PM

No No NO!

The best is 7 grain bread with mayo, sliced mozzarella, sliced tomato and grilled with butter.

Nothing beats that!

Posted by meisha | July 30, 2008 2:40 PM

I don't give a shit what kind of cheese is on there, as long as it's full of fresh toasted jalapeno.

Posted by levide | July 30, 2008 2:42 PM

More Stranger dick sucking of McLeod Residence.

Posted by Non | July 30, 2008 2:43 PM

@18 - not according to international trade law it's not. Cheddar's better, it's not Muenster.

And the difference between toasted cheese and grilled cheese is the preparation - toasted cheese you make in a toaster oven or using a toaster rack (do NOT use a toaster!), grilled cheese you fry on a grill or in a frying pan.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 30, 2008 2:43 PM

I'm jumping on the Pepper Jack and sourdough wagon(s).

Posted by kid icarus | July 30, 2008 2:44 PM

@38 for the win.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 30, 2008 2:45 PM

BJC I hope you review the new deep fried macaroni bites from Jack In The Box so I'll never have to try them / get addicted!!

Jack's new Cheesy Macaroni Bites, featuring wedges of macaroni noodles and real Kraft® cheese enveloped in a crunchy tempura-style coating, are easy to eat on the go and make great snacks or sides.

Posted by Jake | July 30, 2008 2:46 PM

Having just eaten, this all sounds gross to me.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | July 30, 2008 2:54 PM

The cheese is less relevant than replacing the butter, margarine, or olive oil on the outside of the sandwich with mayo for the browning.

Posted by Apocalypse Tom | July 30, 2008 2:55 PM

Copy that, #s 38 and 41.

Posted by Miss Stereo | July 30, 2008 2:58 PM

@19 I live right next to the Canadian border and listen to Canadian radio and it always cracks me up when they say "two all beef patties covered in melted processed cheese". That just sounds so unappetizing. At least they're calling it what it is, although processed imitation cheese would be more appropriate.

@35 I couldn't agree more... mmm melted plastic sandwich.

Posted by SDizzle | July 30, 2008 3:00 PM

It's hard to beat the Fiddler's Inn grilled cheese: cheddar and Swiss on sourdough, with fresh spinach and roasted red peppers. Accompanied by a couple of pints, of course.

Then again, my mother used to make a hell of a grilled cheese: Velveeta on Wonder Bread. (Throw in a slice of Spam, and you had a sandwich with a half-life.)

Posted by Youngblood | July 30, 2008 3:01 PM

Fontina, with homemade cream of tomato soup on the side.

Posted by keshmeshi | July 30, 2008 3:05 PM

@36: I generally believe in to-each-their-grilled-cheese-own, but mayo is indefensible.

Posted by Bethany Jean Clement | July 30, 2008 3:15 PM

Cheddar in a grilled cheese is so oily and the texture gets weird. American cheese is the way to go.

Also try it "raw" (uncooked) on soft, fluffy white bread with margarine.


Posted by Explorer | July 30, 2008 3:19 PM

Clearly, we need to have one of these in Seattle:

Posted by Explorer | July 30, 2008 3:25 PM

Will @38, how many times did you try to make your grilled cheese sandwich in a toaster before you figured that out? Five? Six?

Posted by Fnarf | July 30, 2008 3:29 PM

#36 - that's crazy talk! 7 Grain bread doesn't grill, it either toasts or burns in my experience.

Posted by Dougsf | July 30, 2008 3:33 PM

@50 - now, if you want a good ciabatta roll with sharp chedder, tomato, and lettuce, that's fine.

And, Fnarf, in the old days, you used to put it in a metal toaster that you put on a wood stove (kind of like a foldable rack) - that's how I know how it's done. If you weren't so citified you'd know that.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 30, 2008 3:42 PM

I just had this EXACT same argument with my sister. My mom had accidentally purchased American cheese (she's getting up there in years, forgive her) and I was trying to make her feel better by saying that it was fine, the cheese would be good in grilled cheese sandwiches. My sister vehemently disagreed, saying that only real cheddar would do. I glared at her until she backed down, cleared her throat and agreed, American cheese is fine in grilled cheese sandwiches.

For the record, I like all of the above stated cheese options and I'd like to add Irish white cheddar to the list.

Posted by PopTart | July 30, 2008 3:54 PM

Havarti melts like a dream.

Posted by V | July 30, 2008 3:58 PM

i love it when Will in Seattle/Fnarf argues with himself.

Posted by harold | July 30, 2008 3:58 PM

As one of the 3 cheeses in traditional fondue, Gruyère makes the best damn grilled cheese. The taste is superb and it has a high butterfat to moisture ratio so it melts perfectly.

Invite a date over for lunch and serve grilled cheese with Gruyère, and you will make them very happy. Make the same sandwich with Aged Gruyère and you will get laid.

American cheese is wrong, wrong, wrong. You will not make anyone happy.

Posted by kraskland | July 30, 2008 3:59 PM

CA 1970s= "toasted cheese sandwiches"

Posted by cracked | July 30, 2008 4:00 PM

@ 20 Oh my god I love you. Best idea ever. Especially if you actually give customers the option of sriracha and a few different kinds of cheeses/optional add-ons.

@49 Are you kidding?!?!?! Mayonnaise coupled with grilled cheese is a glorious thing. Don't be such a food snob.

Posted by Callie | July 30, 2008 4:01 PM

Cheese sandwich cart on Pike...BRILLIANT!

Posted by Original Monique | July 30, 2008 4:06 PM

Don't knock the mayo until you try it. It really does make a great grilled cheese sandwich, and it's the easiest of any grilling medium to spread. Grilled cheese is really the only reason I always have a jar of mayonnaise in the fridge.

Grilled cheese is too good a food to save for just one cheese, but I have to say I prefer my food to have a flavor and so-called American cheese doesn't.

Posted by mayorules! | July 30, 2008 4:06 PM

I like 3 Kraft Deli singles on fluffy white bread. Even though I call it a grilled cheese sandwich, I usually make mine in a toaster oven.

Posted by elswinger | July 30, 2008 4:19 PM

I cringe now, but as a kid I'd beg my mom to make garlic bread w/ mayo instead of butter. White bread, granulated garlic, and mayo fried on a pan.

As far as grilled cheese goes, gruyere is great but crazy expensive. I think fontina is nice but generally any smoked cheese is my preference.

Posted by christopher h | July 30, 2008 4:19 PM

I don't think I've ever had Irish White Cheddar.

If you buy Kraft, get the Canadian version, it's better.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 30, 2008 4:30 PM

And we need a cheese cart in every ST station.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 30, 2008 4:33 PM

Some slices of onion go really good in a grilled cheese. Mayo, definitely, but on the inside, not the outside; that's for butter.

Posted by Fnarf | July 30, 2008 4:38 PM

Only if it is vegan cheese, Will. You start giving us cow milk and next thing you know we'll be hanging fighter jets in your stations. It would be only a short while before, we'll have a generation of Brainwashed Capitol Hill Hipsters enlisting to fight the war on Iranistan and Afghaniraq.

But alas, any kind of 7+ grain bread is doomed to burnage and failure. Only lilly white bread bleached with the purest of NaCL can produce the proper substance on which to place Cheddar Cheese.

Posted by crk on bellevue ave | July 30, 2008 4:56 PM

Also, high quality mustard + non-organic tomato + avocado slices + swiss cheese = good. Dunno if that qualifies as strict grilled cheese though.

Posted by crk on bellevue ave | July 30, 2008 4:59 PM

Sourdough. Aged cheddar. Butter. And a pinch of Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning on the top.

American cheese? Not under my roof, dammit!

Posted by Lee Gibson | July 30, 2008 5:08 PM

@39. The term "toasted cheese" has been around since long before the introduction of the toaster oven. I know this, being old. In fact, the term "toast" itself no doubt pre-dates the invention of the toaster. Thus, you are wrong.

Posted by fixo | July 30, 2008 5:09 PM

Why the fax machine is just waffle iron with a phone attached, eh fixo?

Posted by crk on bellevue ave | July 30, 2008 5:18 PM

Good catch on the mustard. You can buy a giant thing of good mustard at Costco for what one of those teeny ones go for at QFC, if you're broke.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 30, 2008 5:24 PM

I will accept mustard on a grilled cheese. Goes nicely with the onion. Please, not from a giant tub from Costco.

Posted by Fnarf | July 30, 2008 5:38 PM

In England people usually call it cheese toasties. There is also the practice of putting cheese on bread and toasting it under the broiler and eating it open-faced. My husband (also English) calls that Cheese on Toast. (pretty fancy name eh?)

As for the McLeod residence email, that is just too precious for words.

Posted by Genevieve | July 30, 2008 8:02 PM

it's velveeta, hands down

Posted by velveeta | July 30, 2008 10:09 PM

It's a glass jar of Grey Poupon at Costco, not a "tub" - tubs are for people who shop at WalMart.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 30, 2008 10:44 PM

Two words: Sage Derby

Posted by Your Mom | July 30, 2008 11:25 PM

While I am willing to acknowledge that the only way that pasteurized process cheese food (is this what they feed actual cheese to keep it happy and healthy?) is fit for human consumption is as part of a grilled cheese sandwich, I am all about denying that it's in any way optimal. I've never had a
cheese that wasn't better than orange colored slices of vegetable oil in a grilled cheese sandwich.

(And I'd make exactly the same argument for margarine v. butter in re the grilled cheese sandwich, except that there is NO other purpose for which I would use margarine, while cheese food is also at least serviceable on hamburgers).

My personal favorite, though, is shredding Cheddar (the sharper the better, natch) onto cheap-ass commercial supermarket white or wheat bread and toasting it under the oven broiler. Mmmmmm....

...and kudos to the posters who think they can do grilled cheese sandwiches on the street. If you can pull it off for $2 or less, I'll even deal with parking on Capitol Hill to patronize ya....

Posted by Mr. X | July 30, 2008 11:27 PM

Cheddar, swiss, provolone, bacon and tomato on rye or pumpernickel is the best. I'll have to try the mayo thing, tho...

Posted by drewl | July 30, 2008 11:35 PM

Thinly sliced Tillamook Extra-sharp from the economical giant log we always have on hand, with some Boar's Head ham on sliced sourdough. Grill that up in butter and serve with Amy's Organic tomato soup. (If you can afford it, as grocery prices seem to have made a major leap lately.)

Grilled cheese and tomato soup (Velveeta/Campbell's) was always my lunch when I stayed home from school as a kid. Amy's soup tastes better than Campbell's, but tastes like Campbell's.

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | July 31, 2008 9:13 AM

80 comments and nobody's mentioned Beecher's yet? The intense meltiness of their original cheese makes the best grilled cheese ever.

Posted by giantladysquirrels | July 31, 2008 9:13 AM

Gruyere, tillamook extra sharp white, processed cheese, Beechers flagship. All great. The real controversy is open faced and toasted vs closed and fried in butter.

I never noticed that "processed cheese" is a canadianism. thanks, slog.

Posted by Steve | July 31, 2008 9:53 AM

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