Now You’re Gonna Want Some Tomato Soup

With the proliferation of fancy full dinners during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and all the misplaced Christmas parties in between, most people get in the mood for some pretty basic menu items along the way. One standard of simplicity is the grilled cheese sandwich, and here’s the way my brother Victor likes to do it. (Warning: this is not health food. In fact, I’ll probably need to go run a few miles after just describing it.)

Choose your bread. Something white and smooth usually works best.

Part of the appeal of a grilled cheese sandwich is that you can experiment with different cheeses, or use just whatever happens to be on hand at the time. A recommended combination is sharp cheddar and mozzarella. Slice your cheese into one-quarter inch tiles and arrange so that it covers one bread slice.

Install the top bread slice and coat both exterior bread surfaces with a spreadable lubricant such as margarine or butter. Place the uncooked sandwich onto a hot waffle iron. Close the lid and apply a little pressure to mash the grid into the bread. (Please note that you should use a regular waffle iron, not Belgian.)

It’s done when you hear melted cheese sizzling on the iron. Remove the sandwich with a fork, and then use the fork to salvage the cooked cheese splatter. This is the basic version of the Waffle Cheese Sandwich, enjoyed by Patterson kids for nearly forty years.

The waffle grid achieves two favorable results: 1) More surface area is created, which translates into increased cooked buttery flavor. 2) The sandwich is not as flimsy as regular grilled cheese because the waffle pattern gives it better rigidity, much as corrugated tin is sturdier than flat tin.

Victor adds some notes about options:
Before cooking, toss in a few pepperoni slices and a smearing of pizza sauce. / If you don’t have actual cheese on hand, “singles” slices work pretty well, too. / Try a three-cheese blend. / Use rye bread with swiss and gouda.

Go. Enjoy.

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Published in: on November 27, 2007 at 6:12 pm  Comments (12)  

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Or you could use a George Foreman grill and skip the margarine or butter. Highly recommended for nice panini-looking grill marks.

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    Response from Steve:
    Yes you could, if skipping butter is an important measure. I had one of those grills several years ago, and it was fun to use. Thanks for reading and commenting, Jim.

  2. Here are a couple more variations. I think we discussed these before you wrote the blog. While there is a recommendation against using a Belgian waffle iron it may be possible to use one if you are using Texas Toast as your bread selection. Alternately you could use peanut butter rather than cheese. This yields another unique delicacy.

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    Response from Steve:
    Peanut butter…you know, that reminds me of another sandwich that might be interesting if waffled….

  3. Oh, no! Let’s not have any searing of medallions!
    ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have to say, potential banana variation aside, both grilled cheese and grilled peanut butter sandwiches sound great. Makes me wonder why I don’t have a waffle iron.

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    Response from Steve:
    I pulled out my waffle iron tonight and partook, but no bananas were harmed in the making of this sandwich. Mine was a little off-standard because I haven’t had any margarine or butter in the house for probably over a year (just haven’t needed it). I used olive oil, instead. I never buy white bread, so I used a dark whole wheat. And before cooking I added a helpful ingredient that Victor doesn’t add: mayonnaise. Today I bought the smallest block of mass-produced cheddar cheese I could find, remembering that it usually goes bad before I can use it all, and that went into the sandwich. The result was very good.

    By the way, my waffle iron is made by Black & Decker! [A man’s tools for a man’s kitchen!]

  4. We use the George. (we don’t have a waffle iron) Actually, we butter Both sides of the bread. The girls are addicted to the pepperoni variation, while we will do the pepperoni, add some oregano, and do a cheddar/swiss cheese combo.

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    Response from Steve:
    That sounds great, Bryan. I love hearing the different combinations people develop. As I was putting my sandwich together tonight, my eye caught the pimento cheese in the refrigerator, and I really stopped to consider it. But I held off on that until another time, maybe.

    For all you George Foreman grill folks, here’s something I had at Earth Fare today for lunch that you can do at home. (I often stop at Earth Fare when I have to go into Charlotte to the hospitals to visit patients, and this one is my favorite.) The name is pretty self-explanatory: Fresh Mozzarella Basil Pesto Tomato Panini…or something like that. They fish the cheese globs out of the tub of brine with their fingers, press them into the bread, add a thick layer of actual basil leaves, tomato, and smear it all with pesto. Then they grill it in one of those panini presses. They claim to use foccacia, but it’s in a ciabatta style bunlet thing that reminds me of something you’d get at Wendy’s or Jack-in-the-Box, so I request them to make it on sliced spelt, and they gladly comply.

    I want one now!

  5. I made the mistake of cooking fish in a GF grill… never did get the smell out. I always like a slice or 2 of tomato on my grilled cheese. Hmmmm… wonder how sprouts would be with that…

    Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner about the loading question. Maybe it’s extra usage during the holiday season… my dial-up is slower than ever. I’m not too familiar with wordpress, so don’t know what options might be available. Personally, I don’t normally mind waiting for pics to load. If it takes extra-long, I play freecell or read or make a snack.

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    Response from Steve:
    Hey, Sophie. Yeah, I’ve had it with tomato, too, and that’s a good summertime way to approach it. Sprouts, though, — I don’t know. Realizing how wonderfully healthful they are, their general taste and aroma nevertheless remind me of dirt. I still eat them, understand, but I don’t know if they would enhance the sublime tower of experience we’re collectively building in these comments.

    I’m glad you’re patient about the photo loading. And you might be right about the holiday season affecting bandwidth and connection speeds.

  6. Well, Steve…I’m glad you are branching out into food writing, but really? “Lubricant?” Generally speaking, we try to avoid using words that might remind the reader of auto repair.

    My preferred method for grilled cheese is two cast iron skillets. I heat my large one to a “NASA hot” temp. Slap the sandwich on there and then press down with a second, smaller cast iron skillet on top. Because the skillet is so hot, the first side browns right away. Then I flip the sandwich and reapply the pressure on top. The cheese has a little chance of melting when it’s in the second position, but not too much. I actually like my cheese a little cool inside.
    But? My guys like theirs the other way, so most of time I just cook them in the skillet without pressing and flip them leisurely.

    When no one is around and it’s breakfast time, I like to just take two pieces of bread, put cheese in between, and slide it into the toaster oven. Then the cheese is pretty much cold and the bread is just toasted without “lubricants.”

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    Response from Steve:
    Yes, “lubricant” and the other five allusions to mechanical / carpentry realms were intentional. Since this was Victor’s sandwich idea, I wrote the piece as a he-man nod to him, knower of all things fixable. The fact that my waffle iron is Black & Decker is just grease on the fittings!

    Good methods you’ve got there, too. Nice to hear from you, Karen.

  7. Hi, I enjoy making cheese sandwiches for breakfast. I can put them in the grill and then finish getting ready or feed the dogs and the fishs. My son and I pick up the sandwiches and out the door we go. Now that is fast food on the run and much better than anything at McDonalds. I have done the pimento cheese, love it myself but my son does not. I also like to put grape jelly on mine after it is cooked. You have to be careful pulling it back apart in order to put the jelly on the sandwich, but it is worth the work. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

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    Response from Steve:
    I would have to try that with the jelly inserted before cooking. It sounds really good. I like jelly on my cheese toast, and this would taste similarly, I think. And you’ve tried the pimento cheese version, good.

  8. You all are far to complicated!!!! Give me two slices of white bread, margarine spread to the edges, a cast iron skillet and a slice of Velveta or two. (You have to have the smooth melting cheese.) Put a dill pickle on the side and enjoy.

    Now that is “old school”!

    ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    Response from Steve:
    Ha! Nice, Shareen. You just made the consistent readers of this blog very happy!

  9. Steve wrote…”By the way, my waffle iron is made by Black & Decker! [A manโ€™s tools for a manโ€™s kitchen!]”

    That’s so funny! I guess I’ve always assumed that any kitchen with food in it was a man’s kitchen…I had no idea that appliances (or their brand names) might actually be gender-specific.
    ๐Ÿ™‚

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    Response from Steve:
    Interestingly, Victor told me that the Black & Decker line of kitchen appliances was created when the B&D company bought out Sunbeam, like maybe twenty years ago. That took some of the grunt out of my proclamation.

  10. I did actually hear that Tim Allen grunt in my head as I read your original posting! LOL!

    It’s okay…I’m sure all the REAL men out there will have no problem designing, trouble-shooting, and constructing grunt-worthy man-food with undercover Sunbeam appliances.
    ๐Ÿ™‚

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    Response from Steve:
    Hey, glad you heard the grunt; that’s what I was shooting for.

  11. Point . . . Counterpoint . . .

    OK, hereโ€™s the deal, Steve. There is the ever precious process of stove top grill-cheezing, sure. But, then there is the method mastered by involving one of the greatest inventions of all-time . . . the toaster oven. Yes, it is true. Although some may live to feel the heat of the stove or sandwich-maker-gadget, I am an ever and always fan of the toaster oven.

    Me, I like to use good old fashioned white bread โ€“ the new white wheat is great, though, too. Then, I slather on the butter โ€“ not the fake stuff, but the real thing โ€“ unsalted, of course, on both sides. I toast them first. Step two . . . I must use extra sharp cheddar cheese . . . ok, this is where I begin to waffle a bit (not in the means of the iron, but the figurative).

    Being a cheese lover through and through, I generally partake primarily in extra sharp cheddar cheese purchases. I also have a tendency to delve into all kinds of artesian cheeses. For instance, I enjoyed a delightful cheese platter as a final course (yes, instead of dessert) at a dinner party last night . . . although I cannot even begin to pronounce their names, they were (and, are always) delicious!

    However, the one exception to my taste for exceptionally exquisite cheese is for grilled cheese sandwiches. I have found a delightful sliced variety from Kraft that is sharp cheddar cheese. I carefully unwrap and toss a couple of those slices on one slice of the buttery toasted bread and then top with the other slice of buttery toasted bread. Oftentimes, I will even slather on more butter at this time, just for kicks! Then, the second toasting commences.

    After a few minutes of the kitchen being lit with the soft red glow of the little stainless steel magician, that, my dear, is a great grilled cheese sandwich! Toaster ovens are the best method, indeed. Now, I am hungry, and I know just what to have for dinner! ~C

    Footnote: Peanut butter is best on pancakes . . . but, that is likely saved for another delicious blog! =)~

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    Response from Steve:
    Toaster oven, huh. That sounds good. Thanks for the play-by-play. I would try it, but I don’t have a toaster oven!

  12. Yeah, the regular waffle iron is definitely a must. Those are the best grill cheese sandwiches ever. All others should not even be allowed to be called “grilled cheese”.

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    Response from Steve:
    Hey there! Good to hear from you. Vic really started something with his cheesy blog idea, didn’t he?


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