8/7/16

I once told you that I made a personal list of Chef Goals: crack an egg with one hand, learn how to make restaurant-level Italian food (for now, like Olive Garden, but graduating to genuine Italian cuisine). One of the points is to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. If you know how to make it, or at least the basics, then you’re probably thinking, Are you kidding? That’s one of the simplest recipes in the book! I’ve never made it before and that’s all I can say in my defense!

So I gave it a shot for lunch. We had whole wheat bread and cheese slices, so I figured I could use those. Well, the cheese was all moldy and we needed more butter anyway, so I had to make a trip to the store.

I didn’t realize until after I’d made it, but in the Blue Bloods Cookbook, they actually had their own recipe and how to make the tomato soup that complements it. So, sorry about that, Bridget and Wendy! Maybe next time, or once I actually make the perfect grilled cheese and am ready to step it up a notch!

The recipe I used was from The Food Network, courtesy of Jeff Mauro. It’s literally called “Classic American Grilled Cheese“, and, right now, classic is what I needed as someone who’s never made it before. Reading over it, I thought, Why was I so afraid of this? The steps are easy and the ingredients are flexible!

It really WAS easy. It just took me a couple attempts to get it right.

First attempt, I made two sandwiches: 

So the problem might be visible in both accounts. I love how the cheese melted together to become one. But that’s it. The first one was better than the second even though I intentionally used up less time for the latter. Dad ended up eating the one I was going to eat (the first), but something to do with cancer and how he’s old enough to have it…should I have taken it away? I don’t know, maybe he was hungry enough for the risk. I’m still trying to figure out the cancer thing though. Is it like lung cancer? Although, who inhales their food?

Anyways, I ended up trashing the second sandwich obviously and he told me to try it again. Before that happened, I tried to calculate the factors of the burnt bread. Should I have buttered up the pan? Although I didn’t see how that could’ve helped since both sides of the sandwich are already buttered. Was it because of the metal bowl that the chef said I should use? What does he mean by “cover it”: like a dome or squash it with the base?

Mom suggested I toast the bread and then microwave the sandwich. I rejected the idea, thinking, Okay, we’re getting further from actual GRILLED cheese sandwiches, people, because I’d made a note on Facebook about how nowadays, people don’t grill them anymore, even though it’s called “Grilled Cheese Sandwich”.

I know she’s made them before, which is why I asked her for her input and, after some deliberation in our think tank, she told me that the recipe specifically said I have to use a griddle. I asked if it mattered and she said, of course it did, because both sides still have to cook even though you eventually have to flip it anyway. We don’t have a griddle, so I used the nonstick pan again.

The metal bowl was key. For the very first sandwich, I covered it as if the bowl was a dome. Then, as I passed the 2-minute mark, I had to figure out how to take it off. I tried using the oven gloves I typically wear, but they slid too much, so I didn’t have a good grip. I then attempted to use one of the gloves and a rubber oven mitt, which helped lift one side of the bowl, but I couldn’t take it out of the pan. At this point, I set the stove temp to low, even though it might have been smarter to set the pan on a cooler stovetop, except I learned that that would not have helped.

What I ended up doing was using the spatula to lift the edge of the bowl. That was the best way, to be honest. While still using the oven glove with my left hand, I lifted the bowl with the spatula and set it aside. Once I flipped, the side was black, soooooooo yeah. I placed the dome over it again, waited till the timer reached two minutes, and then set it on a plate. I did it for the second one as well, thinking maybe it was the cooking time or the temp. I was going to cook on low, but decided it’s only two minutes, so adjusted to a maximum of two minutes instead.

Nothing. Same problem, but worse than the first. Dad ate the first one and tried to feed it to the dogs, but even they have standards.

So this time, I decided to keep everything as is: medium for at least two minutes, but used the bowl to crush the bread. That way, the heat could spread rather than stick to the bread. It didn’t really crush it actually except toward the end. The first half was marvelous. The other was mildly burnt, so I think next time, I’ll just reduce the second half’s cooking time to one minute since I did it for two minutes. When I took the metal bowl off, I didn’t even need gloves. It was still hot, but the rim of the bowl curves outward, so I could grip it using my fingers and gravity.

Here’s the finished product. That’s more like it. 🙂 This is just the good side though.

I ended up having to eat it this way (just to clarify: I’m saying it because I know some people flip the top of their sandwiches once they set them down, even for burgers where there is a clear top and bottom–I set it with the bottom down). That’s because at least my tastebuds could catch a glimpse of grilled cheese perfection before all hell breaks loose. You’re welcome, buds.

FYI, I wanted to make a “grilled/griddle” joke earlier because of the L’s and D’s, but whenever I joke, it gets awkward, so I didn’t come up with one. See? I made things even more awkward by mentioning there was supposed to be a joke. 😛

That’s all, folks! Break eggs!

P.S. I had a good few paragraphs worth of other thoughts, but, because I constantly switch from one device to another, I lost it. If I remember what I said, I’ll see if I can fit it in for the next time I make it (probably tomorrow), but till then, sorry!

P.P.S. This wasn’t in my lost notes, but I also thought about the “Grilled Cheesus” episode of Glee and then started missing Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson.

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