Is there anything more satisfying than the perfect grilled cheese sandwich? Crisp and crunchy on the outside, gooey and warm on the inside, with maybe the counterpoint of a few juicy tomato slices, this warm and messy lunchtime classic, couldn't be more satisfying on stay-at-home snow days or even for an after-work supper.
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Here's my secret for making the ultimate comfort food both gooier and crunchier: Use your waffle iron!
If you've been thinking of investing in a panini maker, try this method first. Just as when you cook waffle batter, the area between the raised surfaces become super-crispy, providing a nice contrast to the melted cheese filling.
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Much as I love waffled cheese sandwiches, in the spirit of full disclosure, there are a few small disadvantages over using a panini press. Because waffle irons close with traditional hinges, rather than the kind on panini makers that lift up and over the sandwich, there tends to be more weight on the back half of the sandwiches so they come out crispier and at times cheese seeps out the back. If this bothers you, turn the sandwich around halfway through cooking. You may also have to put a little effort into cleaning grease that's caught between the grooves although stuck on cheese will lift right off the nonstick surface. Nonetheless, for this grilled-cheese loving girl, the crispy payoff is worth the work. And there's one less appliance taking up real estate in my cabinets.
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Here are some tasty tips from one grilled cheese lover to another:
- Butter the outsides of your bread before assembling the sandwich. This makes for an extra-crisp sandwich and encourages the bread to brown more evenly.
- Buy unsliced cheese (I love Cheddar!) and cut it yourself. Making each slice extra thick will make your sandwich extra gooey.
- Add extras for contrasting flavor. tomato, prosciutto, and bacon all up the oomph factor of a plain old grilled cheese. Also, try using more unusual cheeses like Brie or pepper jack.
The sandwiches in the pictures were made on the Cuisinart 6-Slice Traditional Waffle Iron. If you really would prefer to make your sandwich on a panini press, I can recommend ones made by Breville and Krups.- By Sharon Franke
Share your tips for making the perfect grilled cheese.
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