The Perfect Grilled Cheese

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The Rules
1. Cut the cheese strategically! (shred semi-hard, slice soft, and grate hard cheeses)
2. Lube it up! (Butter the pan AND both slices of bread)
3. Push it real good! (Use a pot or pan to press your sandwich)
4. No Peeking! (Don’t flip too soon, and don’t peak before its ready, use your other senses)
5. Take a break! (Always let the sandwich rest before cutting)
6. Repeat often!
April showers bring butter burns and freaky trophies. At least, that’s been the case ever since 2006 when we made the Grilled Cheese Invitational one of our seasonal “musts.”
You’ll remember, dear reader, that Hot Knives competed in this nut-so event three years in a row, winning five trophies for nearly a dozen sammies, and became the most decorated competitors in the contests’ history (more developments on that front later). Well, as promised, we retired this year and abstained from competing. But that didn’t mean we hung up our spatulas exactly…
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Last weekend, for the 7th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational, Hot Knives led a 30-minute, balls-out cooking demonstration on how to make the perfect grilled cheese in front of hundreds of hungry cheese heads who’d waited in line for hours. Talk about a rowdy audience! It was caged heat. It was harder, dirtier, and more rewarding, than competing ever was. Rather than making 4 sandwiches, we grilled something north of 40 full sammies. We had sad hecklers (over herrrrre, on thissssss side!) To top it all off, we were bestowed the awesome, fascist power of giving out a judge’s awards this year.
Our message to the audience was simple: Use the equipment we say. Follow our 5 simple rules. And you too can be a fucking grilled cheese champion.

Equipment

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Cast iron skillet
Clean dish towel
Metal spatula
Serrated knife
Microplane grater
Grill brush
Probably our favorite moment of the whole sweltering stageshow was when we said, “Try to find French-style butter that’s at least 83 percent fat,” and a middle-aged lady started pounding her heart and screaming “Amen!” Thankfully, our favorite cheese chronicler Drew was there snapping pics for the local rag. After our show we fed the Los Angeles City Council president a grilled cheese, hit the Lagunitas beer garden, and called it a day.
The Perfect Grilled Cheese
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2 slices Sourdough Ciabatta style bread
2 oz. Taleggio
1 Tbs. French-style butter
1 oz. Mimolette
1. Bake a loaf of bread (optional, but highly suggested).
2. Take butter out of fridge and store near the stove to get it soft and spreadable.
3. Slice your Taleggio with a thin knife. Grate the Mimolette with the microplane. Store the cheeses on a cutting board or in bowls while you prepare the rest of the fixings. Cheese should be room temp before hitting the pan.
4 Slice your bread into 2-centimeter thick pieces, just a tad fatter than store bought bread. Butter the outer side of each piece, from tip to tip.
5. Place your pan on high heat for a couple minutes. Reduce heat to medium and start lubing with butter. Gauge how hot the pan is by whether the butter burns (too hot) or just quickly sizzles (perfect). Heavily butter the center of the pan and immediately hit with a large pinch of Mimolette, distributing the cheese roughly in the shape of a piece of bread. Quickly follow it up by placing the bread slice on top, butter side down obviously. Top with Tallegio slices (just enough to cover bread completely) and the second bread slice butter side up.
6. Press sandwich by balancing a medium-sized pot on top. Let cook for 2-3 minutes, or until Taleggio shows the earliest signs of melting. Confidently slide spatula under sammy and flip once sure that Mimolette is fully removed from the pan’s surface. It should be golden-orange and crisped without being burnt.
7. Repeat on second side. Remove once Taleggio is oozing onto pan. Let sit for 30-45 seconds before cutting with a serrated knife. DO NOT ruin your perfect sandwich by applying too much pressure: gently saw through the crunchy crisped cheese crust and let that knife do all the work.
And now a bit of news: Some lady named Heidi put on a bull’s eye on her head by beating our record of five trophies and being crowned the most decorated competitor in GCI history. Heidi, Heidi, Heidi… if you’re out there: you better come back next year cuz we can’t guarantee that your record will survive another round, if you catch our drift…

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3 Responses to The Perfect Grilled Cheese

  1. Mikey says:

    Are there any competitions like this outside of LA?

  2. EVAN says:

    Not surprisingly, this happens in Oakland and Austin… where else, right?

  3. WALT! says:

    It Looked good and I learned a lot from your demonstration that day. Now if only I could have been lucky enough to taste one!!!! Darn grilled cheese fiends!

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