April is apparently National Grilled Cheese Month, but I hadn’t noticed, since every month is pretty much grilled cheese month here in Wisconsin. Need a quick snack? Make a grilled cheese. Too tired to actually cook dinner? Make a grilled cheese. Bored? Make a grilled cheese.
This is the mantra of every Wisconsinite. When we’re hungry, we eat cheese. It just comes naturally.
So when I read a column posted today by Ron Krueger, of the Flint Journal, on grilled cheese, it immediately took me back to my childhood, watching my mom pull the Velveeta from the fridge, which she kept in a specially-made green plastic Velveeta container with a lid (everyone had one of those back then), slice a couple of big old slabs of the gooey orange stuff they called cheese, sandwich it between two pieces of buttered bread, lightly toast on a pan over the old farm gas stove, and voila, three minutes later, I had the greatest snack ever.
Ron is exactly right when he says Kraft and Wonder Bread had a corner on the grilled cheese in the 70s and 80s. Heck, here in Wisconsin, people I know STILL make grilled cheese with white bread and Kraft Singles (one step up from Velveeta, I suppose).
But since it’s National Grilled Cheese Month, let’s break out of our Wisconsinite pattern, people, and actually buy some real cheese and real bread. Here’s a secret I’ve learned over the years — you can use almost any cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich as long as you shred it first. Most cheese, when shredded, melts beautifully.
My favorite is an aged cheddar grilled cheese — Hook’s 5-year or Widmer’s 6-year are best — just shred the cheese a bit, butter your bread, and toast until done. Aged cheddar is particular good with any sort of artisan bread — a sourdough is a nice touch. I also enjoy a Swiss & marbled rye grilled cheese — again, just shred your favorite Swiss cheese and toast on buttered marbled rye bread. Yummy.
Laura Werlin has a great book on grilled cheese that came out several years ago, but it’s always worth repeating — she’s also doing some recipes for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board this month for off-the-beaten-track grilled cheese. Check them out here.
In the meantime, try making a Grilled Blue Cheese & Bacon Sandwich — here’s the recipe:
• 1/2 c. blue cheese, crumbled
• 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
• 1 green onion, thinly sliced
• 1/2 t. black pepper
• 8 slices artisan onion bread
• 2 T. butter, softened
• 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp
In a small bowl, blend blue cheese, cream cheese, green onion and black pepper. Butter one side of each slice of bread.
Spread the cheese mixture on the non-buttered side of 4 bread slices. Cut bacon slices in half and place 2 halves on top of each blue cheese- topped slice. Cover with remaining bread, buttered side out.
Place sandwiches on an electric griddle heated to 275 degrees or in a skillet heated on medium. Cook 4-5 minutes per side, or until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted.