Growing up, a grilled cheese sandwich was 2 pieces of Wonder (white) bread slathered in butter with a slice or two of processed cheese running out. However, as I’ve discovered, nearly any sandwich cooked on the stove top or griddle with cheese can qualify as a grilled cheese. And, the “bread” doesn’t even have to be bread.
Over the past year, we’ve made grilled cheese sandwiches with pimento cheese, dark chocolate, pound cake, bacon, turkey, ham, sausage, slaw, jelly, and every kind of sliced cheese imaginable. What I’ve come to understand is that with a grilled cheese sandwich, the sky’s the limit and the creative creations reveal a lot about the chef’s personality.
For me, my grilled cheeses are always modern twists on classic and southern flavors. For my husband, however, his grilled cheeses have a theme…meat and BBQ sauce. (Most of his meals include BBQ sauce.) My sandwiches always have a sweet & savory mix. His are always loaded with meat and it will take an act of God for a vegetable to appear. I search for appropriate “bread” for my sandwiches–bread that will compliment my sandwich fixins’. His “bread” is simply a vessel for transporting meat and very traditional cheeses; his favorite being Colby-Jack.
About a year ago, we spent a week creating grilled cheese sandwiches every night. Some of them were amazing; while others…let’s just say they quickly found their way to the garbage can. (Smoked salmon and fresh dill on a grilled cheese was not as fabulous as I imagined…bleh!)
Some of our amazing grilled cheese creations that we’ve shared over the past year…
One of our favorites, which combined my love of veggies on grilled cheeses and my husband’s need for copious amounts of meet, was
Grandma’s Italian Market Grilled Cheese
1 loaf of good Italian Bread
1/4 c. softened butter
1/2 c. julienned bell peppers
1/2 c. julienned red onions
4 Italian Sausage Links (we used Italian Turkey Sausage)–cooked and split in half
14-16 slices of thin sliced deli pepperoni
1 c. jarred spaghetti/marinara sauce
1-2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
**I also added fresh mushroom slices to mine. My husband, however, would have rather lost an arm than try them.
Cut Italian loaf into 4 equal portions and slice each in half. Brush both sides with a small amount of marinara sauce. Then, line each side with shredded mozzarella. On top of the mozzarella, layer onions, peppers, pepperoni, and one sausage link that has been split. Close the sandwich and brush the outside with softened butter. Place on a griddle heated to 325-350 degrees. Press sandwich slightly with a heavy skillet to flatten and toast the bread. As the cheese begins to melt, flip the sandwich and continue cooking until all the cheese is melted and sandwich is golden and toasty.
Use remaining marinara for dipping.