Our Grilled Cheese Slideshow features 15 ooey-gooey takes on the classic comfort food. Before you try your hand at the recipes, though, it's important to get familiar with the proper technique. Here are five of Bon Appétit Test Kitchen wunderkind Sarah Tenaglia's tried-and-true tips for making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich.
1. Work with the right ingredients. "A toothsome, country-style bread works best, and it can support a range of cheeses," says Tenaglia. "Make sure to use cheeses that melt well, like cheddar, mozzarella, fontina, or jack. Goat cheese has a nice tang, and blue cheese adds sharpness, but neither does that gooey thing you want for a grilled cheese. If you want to use one, just combine it with a 'melty cheese.'"
2. Use a non-stick skillet. "You won't have to use as much fat, so you won't run the risk of a soggy sandwich."
3. Moderate heat is the key. "A good grilled cheese sandwich is brown on the outside and gooey on the inside. This is hard to achieve without burning the bread; make sure to use medium heat. Also, using a mixture of oil and butter prevents the butter from browning too quickly."
4. Add greens later. "I don't like greens wilted ahead of time; there's something about the freshness of certain elements that are not heated through. Split open the sandwich and add the arugula or lettuce right at the end."
5. Finish it off in the oven. "For me, the worst thing is not to have the cheese melted all the way through. If the bread is browning on the stovetop but the cheese isn't gooey yet, stick the sandwich in a 400-degree oven for a couple of minutes."
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And if you're still feeling adventurous, try these four delicious grilled cheese flavor combinations:
The Classic: Country-style bread and aged cheddar cooked in a skillet with butter.
The Southwestern: Country-style bread, jalapeno jack cheese, avocado, and cilantro cooked in a skillet with olive oil.
The Frenchie: Country-style bread, blue cheese and brie cooked with sliced apples or pears in a skillet with butter.
The Tuscan: Country-style bread, fontina, strips of prosciutto, and sprigs of fresh thyme cooked in olive oil with cracked pepper.
In general, smoky meats are a good counterpart to cheese, and the sweetness in caramelized onions works well, too. And a tip for groups: Forgo the stovetop and try using the oven. "Spread butter on bread slices, place them on a baking sheet, and broil them until brown," says Tenaglia. "Then flip them, add cheese and whatever other ingredients, put another buttered slice of bread on top, and broil that side. You can do six sandwiches at one time this way."
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