Joco Diversions

It’s National Grilled Cheese Month

What is your favorite grilled cheese?

To this day I still get a hankering for a slice of American “cheese” between two slices of white bread. Sometimes, even though I know it’s not actually cheese but simply made-from-cheese, I need to have the grilled cheese my mom made.

April is National Grilled Cheese Month. And since I am always extolling the virtues of cheese, I felt it my obligation to participate. Today’s the last day of the month, so hurry up and celebrate with your own version of an American classic.

The fact is, though I hold a Kraft Singles grilled cheese in high nostalgic esteem, a grilled-cheese sandwich is always better with real cheese.

What are the ground rules when it comes to grilled cheese? Well, there is only one rule: Don’t put cheese on the outside of the bread. Period.

OK, it’s just me. I don’t get it. I want the cheese to be creamy and melt. The only thing that should be crispy is the bread and maybe a little cheese that melts over the side of the bread. That’s it. Just the way I see it.

There are several ways to toast your sandwich. The three most common are grilled (usually on a flat griddle or a pan), pressed (with a sandwich press) or broiled (in an oven toasted open face and then put together). All of these methods work well. I prefer grilled, not only for the nostalgia but the even cooking and almost universal presence of a pan in any kitchen.

I use butter on both sides of the bread, and I cook the sandwich on a medium heat. Slow is the name of the game. If it takes six to 10 minutes to cook your grilled cheese, that is great. Don’t be afraid to flip, either. The key is to brown and crisp, and flipping helps keep the browning under control. If you are worried about your cheese not melting before the bread browns too much, feel free to slap a lid on for a couple minutes.

So what cheese do I use? I have several favorites, but really, if it melts, go for it.

My top 10 cheeses for grilled cheese:

• Point Reyes Toma from California.

• Comte from France.

• Cottonwood River Cheddar from Kansas.

• Paglierino from Italy.

• Prairie Breeze Cheddar from Iowa.

• Humboldt Fog from California.

• Ossau Iraty from France.

• Scharfe Maxx from Switzerland.

• Gouda with Black Pepper Corns from the Netherlands.

• Cotswold from England.

If you have to have something other than cheese in your grilled cheese, here are my top five additions:

• Spanish corizo.

• Roasted Garlic and Onion Jam from Stonewall Kitchen.

• Tomato Preserves from The Better Cheddar.

• Ripe tomatoes.

• Fig jam.

I hope this is enough to get you in the mood for National Grilled Cheese Month.