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Chef Jill's Grilled Cheese

Make It A Cheesy Summer

Summer is HERE. Make sure the kids are eating tasty meals this summer, and at the same, teach them life skills.  Of course, we’re talking about making GRILLED CHEESE.

Chef Jill's grilled cheese sandwichCCKC Executive Chef Jill Garcia Schmidt makes a mean grilled cheese.  But a culinary degree isn’t necessary to become a grilled cheese master. Start with the classic, then experiment. Try new additions to the sandwich, and you’ll be surprised how you elevate this ‘simple’ sandwich to be a fancy and most delicious dish.

So, first things first.  Here’s what you need to build a grilled cheese sandwich: bread, cheese and butter .

Almost any bread will work to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Chef Jill offers this guide, “If a bread makes good toast, it’ll make a good grilled cheese sandwich.” But, she says, the more cheese you add to your sandwich, the sturdier the bread you need to support it. Some good breads to try – sourdough, rye and pumpernickel.

Cheese!What type of cheese should you use in your grilled cheese? Well, much like the bread, almost any cheese will work. But here are some things to keep in mind: the best cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches are creamy, melt well and partner well with other cheeses. Jill says she likes to blend a couple different kinds of cheeses on her sandwich. Havarti is one of her favorite.  Try mixing a Havarti or American with a bolder flavor, like an Aged Sharp Cheddar or Pepper Jack, she suggests.  If you’re slicing cheese for a sandwich, slice it thin, so that it will melt easily. If you have chosen a cheese that is hard to slice, shred it! That’s a tip that she picked up from a cheese monger, and it’s another tool in her grilled cheese arsenal which she uses often.  She recommends staying away from using Feta, Queso Fresco or any low-fat cheese for your grilled cheese sandwich.

If you don’t have butter or are looking for an alternative to use to coat your bread before grilling, try mayonnaise, Miracle Whip or a garlic butter spread. Both get the same results for grilling, but each offers its own unique flavor. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, try brushing the bread with olive oil or using a non-stick spray on the pan.

One of the most common mistakes people make on their grilled cheese is adding too much butter on the bread, says Jill. Just spread a thin, even coating over the bread before grilling.

Final tip from Jill for your grilled cheese: Put a lid on it.  Yep, that’s right. Place your sandwich on the pan or grill to start cooking, let it get grilling, then turn down the heat a bit and place a lid on the pan. Not for long, maybe 60-90 seconds. Then peek. If it looks ready, turn the sandwich and place the lid back on the pan until the sandwich is done to just the browned finish you want.

OK. So you’re ready to make the perfect classic grilled cheese sandwich. What now?  How do you take it to the next level? Try new combinations! Jill suggests adding meat or thin slices of apple. “If it goes with cheese, try it,” she says. How about a pizza grilled cheese?  Yep, add pepperoni, marinara and even mushrooms, if you like. Or nacho grilled cheese – with jalapeños, sour cream, beans, maybe even tortilla chips for some crunch? Get creative.  Take a pic to share on social. We’d love to see it. Make sure to tag us @kcculinary.

Chef Jill shared secrets for the perfect grilled cheese sandwich with Abby Eden from Fox 4 KC’s morning news. You can watch the segment below…

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