If you love sandwiches made with cheese, then you’re going to love The Barefoot Contessa’s Ultimate Grilled Cheese.
Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe!
Ultimate Grilled Cheese
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 45 min
Yield: 6 servings
For Ina Garten’s Ultimate Grilled Cheese, you will need the following ingredients:
12 slices thick-cut bacon, such as Nodine’s applewood smoked
1 cup good mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 white pullman loaf or sourdough bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick (12 slices)
6 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
6 ounces aged Gruyere or Comte cheese
6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, such as Cabot or Shelburne Farms
For prep instructions, please either refer to the video above, or you can access written instructions here!
Tips For Making A Great Grilled Cheese Sandwich
The buttery taste of fresh grilled cheese sandwiches — the crisp texture of toasted bread, the melted cheese – everything about them just tastes great! It’s hard to beat the classic combo, but that shouldn’t mean it can’t be improved upon, as there are plenty of ways to elevate it. It is true that the basic grilled cheese recipe uses white bread and American cheese toasted in a little butter, but with a few changes, it can be transformed from a simple, satisfying sandwich to one that will take your breath away. To make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, here are some tips that will help you. A few of these items can help you get one step closer to bread and cheese heaven, so be sure to include one or more.
It is important to pick the best kind of bread
Do you think the taste of mediocre bread will improve when it is heated and layered with cheese? Yes, without a doubt. A grilled cheese can be made from better bread to take it to a whole new level and make it more enjoyable. The best way to prepare this dish is to use homemade bread or a loaf purchased from your favorite bakery. Try out different varieties of whole wheat or whole grain bread, as well as rye, sourdough, pumpernickel, or any other bread that you wish to try. As another alternative, you can use English muffins, waffles, croissants, focaccia, or pull-apart rolls. It is best to avoid thick slices of bread, which will make it harder for the cheese to melt, and to avoid loaves that have a lot of holes in them. Moreover, it should also be noted that day old or about to go stale bread is perfect for making grilled cheese since it will be revivified by the fat and heat applied to it.
Don’t forget to butter – or mayo – up those sandwiches!
Typically, if you are going to make a grilled cheese sandwich, you will butter the outside sides of the bread before placing it in the pan – for more flavor, you can butter both sides of the bread, inside and outside. It is a great way to add a bit of flavor to the sandwich, and it prevents the sandwich from burning and sticking at the same time. However, do you know what works even better than that? It is recommended to apply a thin layer of mayonnaise.
In addition to doing everything that butter does, mayo does it a bit better – it’s actually very good at browning the bread. It is also worth mentioning that mayonnaise adds just a hint of tanginess to the classic bread and cheese combo, which helps to balance out some of the richness. Is butter something you are not willing to give up? For the best of both worlds, spread butter on the inside of the sandwich and use mayonnaise on the outside of the sandwich.
You should pre-toast the bread before using it
It’s true that grilled cheese is supposed to be a fast, fuss-free meal, however, this extra step does add a little more effort and time, but it’s well worth it and hardly any trouble in the end.
The first step is to spread mayo (or butter) on both sides of both slices of bread and then place them in the pan that will be used to cook the grilled cheese. Both sides of the bread should be toasted briefly until they begin to brown. As soon as the bread is slightly toasted, it can be taken out of the pan, assembled into a sandwich, and then returned to the pan to finish cooking. As a result, your sandwich will be crispier and more flavorful if you take a little extra time to do this.
Make sure the cheese you use is the right one
The use of American cheese – which, by the way, is a classic for a reason – is absolutely fine, and it’s a great addition to almost any sandwich. On the other hand, there is also a whole world of cheeses out there that are just waiting for you to melt them between two slices of bread. Choose varieties of cheese that melt easily, such as fontina, Gruyere, Comté, young cheddars, Taleggio, and jack cheeses of any kind, without being afraid to use more than one kind at a time. There is no doubt that fresh cheeses like feta and aged cheeses like Parmesan won’t melt completely, but they will add a lot of flavor to your grilled cheese; just make sure you combine them with enough melting cheese to get that satisfying grilled cheese experience.
Cheese should not be used in excess
It is not only important to use the right cheese, but it is equally important to use the right amount of cheese as well. You have to ensure that there is enough cheese on the sandwich so that it is sufficiently cheesy, but not so much that the cheese spills out from the sides and makes a mess. For an average slice of bread, you will want somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/3 cup of cheese per sandwich, but the ratio will depend on the size of the bread. As a general rule, thin pieces of cheese are better than thick ones, with grated cheese being especially good for melting.
Make your grilled cheese stand out by dressing it up
Although there’s no doubt that cheese should always be the star of the show, it is also important to recognize that fontina or cheddar can share some of the spotlight with a few other supporting players. Try being more creative with your add-ins. As simple as bacon or slices of ham and tomatoes are, you can’t go wrong. Adding sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, slices of avocado, and roasted red peppers to a sandwich can take it to a whole new level of deliciousness. You can add brightness and contrast to this salad by thinly slicing apples or pears, while mustard or olive tapenade will add a bite and nuts or potato chips will add crunch to the dish. You can add honey, jam, or chutney to your sandwich in order to make it salty and sweet at the same time. It is important that you do not overdo anything. It’s important to remember that cheese is always the star of the show.
Low and slow is the way to go
It is important to be patient when making grilled cheese, just like you would if you were a barbecue pit master. As you cook, keep the heat on medium to medium-low and adjust it as you go along so that the bread toasts at the same rate as the cheese melts, ensuring that the bread is not burnt and the cheese is melted. Especially if you are going to pre-toast, you will want to do this in order to avoid burning the bread before the cheese has fully melted on the bread.
Grilled cheese sandwiches in the style of a panini can be made by pressing down
The best way to make grilled cheese is to use a panini press if you own one. It is still possible to make your grilled cheese super crispy if you do not have this option, however. Using a spatula is the best way to make sure that the sandwich is well-pressed while it cooks in a regular pan or, even better, in a grill pan while it cooks. The one step further you can take is to place a heavy pan on top of the grilled cheese as it cooks, making sure to flip it at least once during the cooking process, so that both sides develop the perfect crust.